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Running. A favorite since Bucky’s mind returned to normal… Or some semblance of normal as it was.

Under HYDRA he never ran. To run was to flee. To run was to be free. He was never free with HYDRA.

Since moving into the tower Steve, in addition to integrating him into life in the 21st century, had taught him the joy that came with running. Each morning when the sun was just peaking over the horizon, he would wake up, if he hadn’t been already from the many nightmares that still haunted him, slipped his sweats off and changed into shorts and a tank top that was likely tighter than it needed to be. That was probably something he’d picked up from Steve subconsciously, much to the delight of passersby. Assuming of course they weren’t put off by his arm.

He’d spent less time covering his arm. As time went on Steve had convinced him it was nothing to be ashamed of. What once had been used as an instrument of pain and death could now be one of strength- something that marked him as a hero. He’d be lying if he said it didn’t still make him uncomfortable. As a result, when regarding a stranger, he often stood in a way that would shield his arm from their gaze enough to encourage them to look him in the eye.

It was obvious he still had a problem with people. Interaction with others was an uphill battle and he was still far from the outgoing man he had been in 1930.
That was why he ran. When he ran his mind went blank. Not the sort of blank that HYDRA had caused, the sort of pleasant blankness that came when your endorphins pumped through you and your heart raced. A runner’s high. Though it took longer to get to that point with his superior body, when it hit it was bliss.

Despite his aversion to crowds, Bucky’s favorite place to run was downtown. It wasn’t so modern there. It was older- at least in an architectural sense. The exposed brick and industrial appeal reminded him of a time before all this. Before all the fighting, the falling, the tampering… He shook his head to clear it as he picked up his pace. Downtown was quiet at this time in the morning. Too early for people to be shopping, but early enough that the shops were opening for the day. Minimal activity without feeling completely isolated. That’s how Bucky liked it. That’s what was comfortable.

As the rustic street sign that alerted to Downtown came into view, Bucky sped up again. He always sped up when he got close, when those buildings touched his gaze. He always ran with Steve. Always. But whenever he saw those buildings he outran him for one reason and one reason only: The Toy Store. Because when he reached that little mom and pop shop, he would slow down far more than necessary, and Steve would catch up with him just as he passed it and they would run at the same speed again.

He did this every day. His timing had become perfect. Speed up, see the sign, speed up, nearly reach the toy store, slow down to a slow jog, pass the toys store, Steve catches him, off they go back in the direction of the tower. There was method to his madness though he never spoke it aloud.

This routine allowed him to look through the windows and spot the young woman that worked there. Each morning at the same time he’d take that moment to dare a glance and see her sweeping, sorting boxes on the counter, placing things on the shelf- always busy, always smiling, always humming, always beautiful. They’d only locked eyes once, the first day he’d turned his head to look in the window. On that day time seemed to slow down and it was as if he was frozen in motion. Her hazel eyes glanced up at the same time he passed, looking away from the magazine she had on the counter at just the right time to meet his blue gaze. His heart thumped for a reason beyond his exorcise and he could swear he felt blood rush to his cheeks.

She smiled, full pink lips shifting to expose the tiniest hint of white, perfect teeth as she nodded as if to say ‘Good morning’ through the window. That’s what started this ridiculous routine, and since that day he always just missed her face.

Whenever he’d pass, he’d get a glimpse of her from the side, the back, just getting a hint of that doll like face before she was out of his view again. It was a blessing in disguise, because if she’d smiled at him again as she had that first day, he probably wouldn’t have the nerve to feed this habit any longer.

Luckily today was no different than the days before. She stood on her toes, reaching to a shelf taller than she was, and placed a bear beside three others. It appeared she was about to turn her head, but by that point, thankfully, Bucky had passed the windows and avoided her inquiring gaze.

Not a moment later, as per usual, Steve jogged beside him. Most of the time they remained silent, as if to allow Bucky to remain in thoughtless bliss- not today. “So, you ever gonna talk to her or just stare?”

Bucky flinched and narrowed his eyes. Caught. “Dunno what you’re talking about.” He muttered, picking up the pace. Of course, Steve could keep step with him. Perhaps the only reason he’d allowed Bucky to speed in front of him was to give him the freedom of his obsession. Steve smiled, but didn’t press the issue any more than that.

“On your left.” Steve murmured. At the same time Bucky chimed in, “On your right.” As they both lapped Sam who could never keep up with the two super soldiers. “You two wouldn’t be so funny if I brought my wings along. But since I didn’t you too are just so damn hilarious!” He screamed the last word. Steve smiled, Bucky smirked.

Since living in the tower, Bucky and Sam had developed a friendship. Well, more like frenemies. They were pleasant, they got along well enough, but they also did just about anything to get on each other’s nerves. These things mainly consisted of little quips and jabs, but beneath the surface there was a friendship- a mutual respect that came with each being friends of Steve.

Both soldiers entered the automatic doors of Avenger’s Tower, with Sam catching up a few minutes later, out of breath. “Did he check out the chick again?” Sam asked as he put his hands on his knees and dropped his head, wheezing for breath.

“Yep.” Steve pipped up with his hands on his hips, barely out of breath. Bucky rolled his eyes but didn’t say anything. It would be best not to respond. Couldn’t give the Bird Brain and Captain Freedom any more ammunition to mock him. “She’s gonna think you’re creepy, bro. Stare’n at her like some sort of art exhibit.” Bucky’s brow twitched. “Didn’t think you’d be into thick chicks.” That was it. He opened his mouth to snap at the glorified seagull and his squawking- but was cut off by FRIDAY. “Mr. Rodgers, Mr. Wilson, Mr. Barnes. Mr. Stark requires your presence in briefing room 4C.”

Sam stood up, pressing his hands on his lower back to stretch it out. “Alright but we stink and we’re not apologizing.”

“I don’t stink.” Steve murmured.

“Super Soldiers don’t stink.” Bucky added.

“Bullshit.” Sam scoffed, following the two super humans to the elevator, who were once again jogging. “You gotta be shit’n me. Aren’t we done with this whole running thing?” Sam huffed under his breath.

“Let’s hope no one ever clips your wings, Bird Man.” Bucky called over his shoulder, trying to get to the elevator before him in a childish attempt to make him wait for the next one.

“Falcon.” Sam corrected, popping into the elevator as Bucky tried to shut it. Steve had his back, placing his hand on one of the doors, much to Bucky’s annoyance.

“Took you long enough.”

When the three men entered room 4C, Stark was already spinning dramatically in the chair at the head of the table, decked out in a suit and golden sunglasses that were completely unnecessary indoors.

“They made me jog here.” Sam complained, plopping down in one of the seats at the left of Tony while Steve and Bucky stole two at the right.

“Poor baby.” Tony murmured, the hologram screen of his computer popping up before him. He flicked his wrist, scrolling through the content there before pointing up to the screen behind him. He pinched the video on his hologram screen as if it were made of more than just light and took it from it’s surface, tossing it in the direction of the flat screen TV which registered the content and flicked on, displaying the video in full screen.

“Hope none of you have plans because you’re in for a late night.” Tony mused, resting his chin in his hand to look up at the video he’d likely watched a thousand times on a loop.

“Hear that Bucky? Better cancel your dinner plans.” Sam murmured, leaning back in his chair.

“Kiss my ass.” He replied with a blank expression though for a fraction of a second his brow did twitch.

“Oh, sorry Tony. Sounds like Bucky and I have a steamy date tonight.” Steve rolled his eyes at his friends’ bickering. “Enough you two.”

“Uh, Children. The video.” Tony tilted his head in the direction of the screen, indicating for the ‘heroes’ to shut the hell up and watch.

The men, who up until that moment had been behaving like boys, turned their heads and looked to the screen as if their focus had never deviated. The video wasn’t great. It was rather grainy and in black and white. Clearly this camera wasn’t Stark quality. But, it was clear enough to make out a room with tall marble columns with floors to match. The room was mostly empty with the exception of a few glass cases lining the walls and a tall case at the center that had been roped off. Inside was a statuesque item that was far too small for the size of the massive case. “Don’t blink.”

It was evident that Tony had indeed watched this footage a million times because not ten seconds after his utterance, broken glass fell from above, just out of frame, hitting the floor below. The video had no sound- but they didn’t need to hear it to know that this was a loud and less than silent entrance.

Following the glass was a figure, based on the obvious curvature of the body beneath the catsuit, obviously a woman. Her dark hair, likely brown, hung down her back far past its center, the lower part of her face hidden by a mask, the upper portion covered in black smudge over her eyes that made her facial features near impossible to distinguish. With a gloved hand, she punched at the glass case in the center of the room, adding to the pile of broken fragments on the floor. Her hand wrapped around the small statue once protected and she lifted it level with her gaze to look at it.

Just as quickly as the video had started, it ended with the woman holding a pistol that was once at her thigh and firing it with perfect accuracy at the camera, leaving a blank screen once again.
Tony spun his chair a fraction to face the table again. “That footage was sent to me via the Metropolitan Museum of Art.”

“What’d she take?” Sam asked, arching a brow. “Glad you asked Feathers. This is something you’ll take personally.” Tony chimed, standing from his seat to pace the room. “That was a priceless white jade statue of Fenghuang, a Chinese creature similar to a phoenix. It dates back to the Qing Dynasty. Now I don’t know or care much about all that. The point is that it’s expensive as all hell and the pride of the jade exhibit being featured this month.”

“So, a thief.” Steve murmured. To which Sam added, “Isn’t this a little below our paygrade? Cops can handle this.”

Tony spun on his heel, extending his arm to point at Sam. “THAT’S what I thought. You know, before I was actually paying attention. That glass case she punched through like nothing was glass manufactured by yours truly,” Tony gestured to himself, “Titan glass, impenetrable by human hands and bullets.”

“Which means she’s likely not human so they want us to bring her in.” It was a statement, not a question. It was obvious.

“Well that should be easy. You see the way she just busted through the building like a wrecking ball? Sloppy. Sloppy as hell. We’ll be back before dinner.” Sam again. Bucky rarely contributed to these briefings unless he had a question. He rarely had a question. Perhaps this was another habit that died hard. As the fist of HYDRA he did as he was told and nothing more. He didn’t need to understand. It wasn’t his job to understand.

“Not sloppy.” Bucky said at last, thought it came through tight lips. In response Sam gave him an incredulous look. “The hell do you men? She charged in, took the item THEN shot out the camera after it had already captured her. What the hell would be the point of that?”

“A display.” Bucky said simply. As usual, Steve stepped in to elaborate what Bucky was saying. “You’re right. Her break in was less than graceful, and she shot the camera after it caught her which would indicate that she was an amateur, didn’t care, or- “

“That she wanted to be seen.” Bucky finished for Steve, looking away from the blank screen.

“Why?” Sam still clearly didn’t understand.

Steve shrugged, “A display of power? Vanity? Nar- “Again Steve was cut off. Poor Steve.

“As much as I’m enjoying this hen session. We’ve got places to go and people to see.” Tony pulled up another hologram which he split into two separate screens with a hand gesture. One displayed a chain of gold medallions, the other displayed an intricate crown.

“Our intel, and by our intel I mean Natasha’s, was able to narrow down her next hit to two possible targets. This one here is a wedding belt from 3rd Century CE currently on display in The Louvre. Bird Boy and I are gonna take care of that one. Cap and the glorified can opener, you two are going to hit the Smithsonian. They’re currently exhibiting crowns from several cultures and if our not so little thief maintains her theme she’s going after this one, The Phoenix Crown of the Ming Dynasty.”

Tony swiped his fingers down over each screen and they disappeared into the table with a fluttering light. “So dress to impress ladies. Two of us have dates.”
Steve arched a brow. “Why, out of curiosity, do you get to go to France?”

“I’m Iron Man.”

There wasn’t going to be an answer beyond that and Lady Liberty did not give Steve the strength to do much more than pinch the bridge of his nose and sigh.



“Tony and Sam still haven’t seen her.” Steve murmured, leaning uncharacteristically casually against a column in the shadows.

“You think she won’t show up.” Bucky murmured into his ear piece. An observation, not a question.

Steve shrugged though Bucky couldn’t see it. He stood in another section of the museum between two fossils because he’d ‘Blend right in’. Steve’s idea. Hilarious. “Maybe the intel was wrong.” Steve whispered back.

Bucky smirked and rolled his eyes a little. “Tell’n Widow you said that.”

“I’ll deny it.” Came Steve’s reply, a little fuzzy from sudden static, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Even on a mission, Bucky could loosen up around Steve. There was something about the atmosphere even on the most serious of assignments that just felt like home. Like old times before the serum, before the war, before the pain.

“I’ve got movement.” Steve said suddenly, removing Bucky from his thoughts.

“On my way.” Bucky replied, but was stopped in his tracks by Steve’s protest. “No. Stay in position. I’ll herd her your way.

Bucky nodded, thought Steve clearly couldn’t see him, and crouched down between the fossilized remains of a brontosaurus and a T-Rex, posed in a way that made them look as if they were engaged in battle. There he stayed quiet. And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

You’d think being frozen for 90% of his 100 years of existence would make him good at waiting. He wasn’t. “Steve.” He whispered over their communicators, holding a finger to his ear to better hear him. However, there was no response. “Steve.” It came out more of his hiss this time.

His ears perked, but there was only dead air.

Bucky wasn’t easily rattled, he was a super soldier for god’s sake- he was bred for this, he was made for this.

But it wasn’t like Steve not to answer. If it had been anyone else he would have maintained his position and obeyed an order, but it was Steve.

He stood up, a few strands of hair falling from his short pony tail as he shifted.

A sharp whistle cut through the air, causing Bucky to whip around in the direction of the sound. He looked behind him, flicking his wrist to draw one of his guns from the holster at his thigh. Bones. That’s all there was. He stared at the brontosaurus’s rib cage, his brow crinkling in confusion.

“Up here handsome.”

Those steal blue eyes flicked upwards immediately, locking with smiling hazel ones. What he assumed were smiling, anyway. Even behind a mask the way those eyes gleamed- there was obvious amusement there and a grin was likely hidden to match.

The woman, their mission, sat on the top of the brontosaurus’s skull, one full thigh over the other, chin resting in her hand, elbow on her knee, long hair falling in waves down her back.
It was easier to see what she wore in person. A grey catsuit clung to her wide curves, the zippers and shoulder patches a deep black and lined with aqua. On her thick hips rested a brown belt with multiple pockets and holders for ammunition, the buckle adorned with a muted red emblem that looked like a shattered heart, the patches on her shoulders mimicked this image.
Bucky’s eyes trailed downward to the woman’s aqua boots that stopped just below her knee, then back up, following the lines of gloved hands in matching color which stopped just passed her elbow, but not before making note of the brown holster strapped to her thigh. These colors weren’t exactly stealthy- proving Bucky’s point that she wasn’t doing much hiding. His eyes continued upward, faulting in their assent when landing on an ample chest that was not covered in the slightest. The zipper of her suit stopped two inches under her chest- the uniform (if it could be called that) hugging her form so tightly that it pushed her full breasts snugly together.

“My eyes are up here soldier,” Though there was teasing in her tone, her back arching a bit as if to highlight her chest. Bucky’s eyes trailed to her face again, perhaps the smallest hint of a blush coating his sun kissed cheeks. Those mocking hazel eyes sparkled, her hand sliding from behind her back to dangle the extravagant crown from her fingertip. “This is up here too.”

Bucky’s foot shifted, alerting the woman with his tensing muscles that he intended to jump up for her. She didn’t doubt the super soldier’s ability to jump. In response, she stood on the skull she once sat on, stomping her foot at the base of the skull to loosen the bond between bones. The fossil rattled for a fraction of a second and with a subtle creek as the only warning, fell to pieces under her boot.

She jumped to the t-rex’s head and looked over her shoulder to see the former Winter Soldier, tuck and roll to dodge the falling bones, each hitting the floor of the display with a crash and kicking up dust that came with the coating of prehistoric bones.

When he was out of the path of fallen debris, he looked up and cursed, the woman no longer stood on the T-rex’s skull, and the glass ceiling above it was shattered. A growl came from his lips that could almost be described as feral, frustration crinkling his brow as he ran up the T-rex’s spine from his tail, jumping through the hole in the glass to chase after the woman.

The sound of blades cutting through the air, a whirling sound captured his attention. Bucky turned his head in time to see his target stepping partially into a helicopter. One foot rested on the entrance's ledge, the other standing firm on the landing skid. Her right hand held tight to the handle by the door, her left holding the crown as she gave a cocky little wave in Bucky's direction. Then the chopper lifting from the ground.

Bucky growled and ran towards the helicopter. The faster he ran, the sooner he ran out of rooftop. The chopper shifted away from the surface. The metal armed soldier made a split decision- jump.

He ran to the buildings edge, not slowing down, and leaped- his left arm reaching up in an attempt to grip the landing skid.

He missed.*

God he hated falling. A fall from this height would hardly damage his superior body; it was the mental damage it caused. Falling is what changed his life, and every time he fell in his mind’s eye he didn’t see a parking lot- he saw ice, snow, and rock; a ridge that would take his arm and put an end to the life he knew. He squeezed his eyes shut and like an unspoken prayer answered he stopped falling.

Steve laid over the side of the building, partially dangling to catch Bucky’s metal hand. He pulled him up, tossing him over the side. Bucky stayed on his knees until his thoughts were his own again, bringing him away from the ridge of the past and back to reality. A reality where Steve caught him.

When Bucky lifted his head, Steve wasn’t looking at him, he was looking in the direction the helicopter had flown, now only a tiny dot against the night sky. The look on his face was puzzled, twisted lips and a crinkled brow as if he has been thinking deeply. It was a look Bucky recognized from when they had been boys in school, typically over a homework assignment perplexing him.

“What?” Bucky murmured, arching a full brow.

“She reached for you.” Steve mumbled, his brow still scrunched up in that same expression. Bucky shared Steve’s puzzled expression now and this time when he spoke he looked at his friend.

“When you were falling… She reached for you.”

Chapter Text

“Hm. Maybe you should have gone to France.” Tony mumbled, clicking a pen against the surface of their briefing table. “Run by me again how you lost?”

Bucky set his jaw and didn’t say anything. At least Steve was there to be a mouth piece- it was better that way. What Bucky had to say was less than tactful.

“Our communicators were disrupted. I didn’t know Bucky was on her until I heard the crash.” He murmured simply. Of course, he didn’t have an explanation as to why or how their communicators had lost contact with one another. “She likely caused some sort of interference.”

“And you didn’t see her take the crown.” Tony cocked a brow, resting his bearded chin in his hand, his other continuing to click the pen as if he were anxious- though that didn’t show on his face.

“She was silent as the grave when she entered and like a bull in a china shop when she left.” Steve gave Tony his signature Captain Stare™, silently telling him not to get on his ass. But Tony was immune to the Captain Stare™ and pushed his luck anyway.

“So, what you’re telling me is you didn’t have eyes on the crown.” None of Tony’s questions where ever questions- mainly because he figured he had all the answers anyway, and if he didn’t he wasn’t going to let on to that.

Steve leaned back in his seat, tapping his knuckles against the table softly. “We covered the most probable escape routes. We figured we’d hear her when she broke in… And in our defense, she didn’t exactly leave gracefully the first, or second time. So, it wasn’t a bad plan.”

“Is that what we’re calling plans that don’t work now?” Came Tony’s quip. He would be lucky if Steve didn’t start using his Captain Voice™.

Before the opportunity arose, Bucky stood up. “I’m going for a run.” He muttered, walking to the door with shifting shoulders that could only be described as a tense strut.

They had only just gotten back to the tower. They had waited for Stark and Wilson to arrive to go through their post-mission brief and opted out of resting. By the time Tony and Sam arrived it was very nearly 8:00am. “Sleep is a thing that humans do.” Tony called after him. “Spent most of my life asleep.” Bucky shot back, pushing the door open with his flesh shoulder and storming out of the room.

This was later than Bucky liked to go for his run. There were more people out and about starting their day than he enjoyed. Still not overly crowded, but not delightfully sparse either. However, he hardly noticed the people he passed, their faces going by in a blur- his mind was otherwise occupied. Another annoyance, as running was usually a way of clearing his mind of thoughts and frustrations.

He kept replying the night in his head, the humiliation of letting a target get away so easily seeping into his gut. Why wasn’t he on the top of his game, why was she so quiet when she arrived, why didn’t she leave just as silently as she came, why expose herself, why the hell did he choke? In reality, it was probably embarrassment that caused him to dissect his actions. He’d been distracted by her appearance and gave himself away.

The only bright side he could see in his moment of self-loathing, was the fact that he didn’t have to be subtle about passing the toy store today. Without Steve or Sam on his heels, he could slow down sooner- in fact he would even dare to walk today. A block away from the store, he huffed a breath and slowed his pace until he was walking and not so subtly turned his head to peer in through the partially glass door of the toy store.

As usual there she stood. Though there were more people than normal on the street, the store remained quiet. Little mom and pop businesses were hurting. They had to compete with places like Target and Walmart: big businesses that sold things at a far lower cost because they got them at a far lower cost then these places. To see the little shops around this street die was a disappointment. They had inflated prices, but they had heart and charm, a feel that was genuinely American. It seemed big businesses were participating in a genocide without their knowledge.
But not the toy store. It stuck around. It hung on even when it spent many hours empty.

Bucky would allow himself to stop today, content that the young woman in the store was distracted by her task. She stood on a step ladder, but still had to push herself up on her toes to reach the shelf she aimed for. This would be the first time since day one that he had a good look at her and he would savor the opportunity. The Sargent’s pale blue eyes started at her toes and worked their way up.

Her flats scrunched up a bit on her dainty feet, straining with the effort of her reach. His eyes followed the shapely curves of her legs until they reached her milky thighs, hidden under a dress that was black at it’s shirt, but cut at the waist where it became pink. He cursed that dress, blocking his eyes from taking in what he was sure was a round behind. His nose crinkled. He hated that cute dress.

The blue eyed soldier continued his ogling. The girl was thick, but this didn’t effect her waist which pinched delightfully to give her body an hourglass curve which he followed to her breasts. He captured his pink bottom lip in his teeth, gripping it tightly. Her breasts were ample, perky with the help of her bra, the strap of which slid a bit passed the short pink sleeve of her dress. Blue. A lovely color against her pale skin.

A hand reached up to push the offending strap back into its rightful position- and for a moment Bucky thought he had been caught. His head snapped up to look at that doll face- but it was hyper focused on dusting the shelf above her head. He smiled slightly, taking in the way that button nose crinkled in frustration and the way pink plush lips pursed in concentration. Her hand which wasn’t holding the duster pushed her long bangs from her face. They swept to one side and ended at her chin, covering one eye if she didn’t shove the locks away. The rest of her brown hair tied up in a high pony tail out of her eyes and topped with a pink ribbon.

Bucky was content to watch her and have more specifics to consume his thoughts. No such luck.

The young woman’s face relaxed and she smiled victoriously at having vanquished the dust on the shelf. She put her hands on her hips and nodded in satisfaction, looking up at if to admire her work that she couldn’t actually see in her position. She stepped back to reach the step under her.

She missed.

She dropped the duster in her hand, reaching out in an attempt to grip one of the shelves and steady herself only to have it just out of reach. An involuntary yelp passed her lips and the front door flew open- the bells on the handle jingling loudly with the force of the shove.

She shut her eyes, bracing for the impact of the floor. She was sure she hit it, thought it didn’t hurt as much as she thought it would. She opened one almond shaped eye, then another. Thick black lashes fluttered in surprise, adjusting to the light of the ceiling framing a chiseled face. She hadn’t hit the floor, but she had fallen into something equally hard.

She was held tightly by strong arms, one bracing against her back, the other, much colder, curling under her knees. She gave an involuntary shiver, goosebumps raising up her thighs.
For a moment, she stayed frozen and shocked, mainly because someone had caught her- but more so that someone had caught her and was holding her without any effort what so ever. She wasn’t exactly light. In fact, she was very far from light. In her mind, she was as far away from light as humanly possible, but that was the selfdepreciating voice in her head talking.

When the shame passed and she was able to push her blush from her cheeks, a few expressions danced across those hazel eyes. First was the obvious relief, then surprise, then realization- and for that moment Bucky was worried that his reputation had proceeded him. He’d been cleared of those bombings in the past, and his actions under HYDRA had been mostly forgiven or at the very least "explained away", but his past was stained on his being and he didn’t always receive the warmest welcomes as a result.

However, after this realization, she smiled that smile that had caught his attention on his run so many weeks ago and his doubt melted away. “T-Thanks.” She murmured simply, struggling to find her voice. “It was a nice catch.” Chewing her lip, she looked down at the floor expectantly, as if asking to be put down, or at least expecting it. This wasn't to say being held by a man who could actually hold her wasn’t pleasant. It was actually quite pleasant indeed. And an amazing view.

Almost reluctantly, Bucky put her down on the floor, letting her flats touch down on a solid surface. He stood up straight and looked at her, his voice caught in his throat. He used to have such a way with the ladies. It didn’t take much, a smirk, a uniform, and they would practically run to his bed- but it was safe to say he was out of practice.

The girl’s eyes looked to his arm and on instinct he shifted his body as was habit. It put people off, he understood that. But her eyes still held a smile as she looked at his face, trying not to stare at the shape of his stubble lined jaw and the features that made her knees weaker than normal. “You’re okay!” She breathed out a sigh of relief, a hand on her chest as if to feel her thumping heartbeat.

Bucky’s brow scrunched up and he tilted his head. For a moment he thought maybe she'd been worried she'd hurt him in her fall. He had noticed that people of this period tended to look down upon what he deemed to be 'full figured beauties'.

Panic flittered through her gaze but was gone as soon as it had arrived, as if it had never been there at all. “I-… You normally run earlier in the morning. I’m so used to seeing you by 10. I was curious if something had happened.”

She trailed off in a mumble, her eyes glancing down. God those eyes were familiar, probably because he’d spent so long thinking about them, trying to remember what they’d looked like that first day he’d seen them.

That James Barnes signature cockiness reared it’s head for the first time in a long while and he smirked, cocking his head back a bit to size up the girl in front of him. “You been watching me, doll?”

The girl’s cheeks heated up and she looked at the floor. “It’s just…. It’s slow around here. You see a lot'a familiar faces and kind'a start to memorize their routines.” Her hands rested at her chest as she wrung them together as if she wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. She brought her gaze back up to the man’s face and smiled. “I’m Cassandra.”

Bucky held out his hand. Finally, a name to put to the face. All it took was a klutzy girl falling off a ladder. “I’m James Barnes.”

“I know.” She responded, the blush that dusted her cheeks remaining at her honest proclamation. “The uh… Arm gave it away.” Maybe that wasn’t tactful. Did he not like it when people noticed it? She felt embarrassed all over again so she covered her tracts before the awkward silence could catch up to her. “I went to the museum and learned a lot about you and the Howling Commandos and stuff… Um, you live in the tower right?” *

She didn’t need to say anything else. Bucky knew the museum also glazed over the HYDRA brainwashing. After Widow released all the information SHEILD had gathered when it was infiltrated, that had become public knowledge anyway- though to what extent he wasn’t sure. He didn’t use the internet. Didn’t understand it.

“Hm,” Bucky crossed his arms over his broad chest, that smirk threatening to tug across his face once more. “Know my name, where I live, my history, and my morning routine.” He looked down at her. He was easily a head taller than her. “If I didn’t know any better I’d say you're enamored with me.”

The girl laughed bashfully and shrugged her shoulders, mirroring his stance with her arms crossed, pushing up her cleavage. “I’ve always liked history.”

Bucky raised his brows, but there was playfulness in his tone. “Did you just call me old?”

“You are aware of what year it is now aren’t you, Sargent Barnes?”

Oh, he liked the way she referred to him by his rank. Probably more than he should have. It wasn’t putting his mind in the holiest of places.

He had his own witty response armed and ready, but was interrupted by the bells on the door jingling, signifying the entrance of a patron. In this case two patrons. The girl stood on her toes to greet the two men. “Hell-…Oh! Captain Rodgers and Mr. Wilson, I presume?” Part of what came with being heroes was that everyone knew who you were. It was annoying. Luckily people were put off by Bucky’s past enough that he didn’t have to deal with it as often as Sam did, and definitely not as much as Steve did.

Bucky flinched at the mention of their names and turned his head to face the mocking expression on Sam’s smug face and the smirk on Steve's. “Sorry Miss…”

“Cassandra.” She murmured softly, reaching out a hand to shake Steve’s and then Sam’s. “Cassandra.” Sam purred with a roll of his R. “We came to pick up our runaway.” He pointed to Bucky who narrowed his eyes. He didn’t like the way he said her name.

“Come on Buck. We have a few hours of downtime before our next brief.” Steve put his hand on Bucky’s shoulder and gave a little tug, pulling him in the direction of the door. “Catch ya later, doll.” Bucky called as he made his way out the door with his team mates.

The young woman walked them out. “Until tomorrow, Sargent Barnes.” She called in a teasing tone, closing the door gently behind them.

“Oooh, Sargent Barnes.” Sam echoed, wiggling his eyebrows. “Kinky.” He purred in a sing-song voice.

Steve grinned and Bucky rolled his eyes. “Wipe that look off your face, Steve. You have a few choice pet names for Tony.” Bucky smirked and ran in front of the two men.

“I’m not seeing Stark!” Steve called after him before dashing down the street after his best friend.

“The walls are thin, Steve! I hear you all alone in there during your ‘down time’!” Steve flushed and picked up a rock to throw at Bucky’s head, but missed. He couldn’t be so mad at Bucky’s sudden playfulness- he hadn’t seen Bucky this chipper in a while.

He could bare the teasing as long as he saw Bucky smile.

“Are you two assholes really leaving me behind again!?”

Poor Sam.

Chapter Text

This was about pride. Bucky wasn’t ashamed to admit that. His ego had been bruised the first time and he wasn’t about to let that happen twice. “I’ve got eyes on the jewels.” He whispered gruffly through their communicators.

“I’ve got rooftop one.” Steve replied.

“I’ve got two.” Sam added.

“Ah good. Actually watching the object this time.”

“Tony.” There was the Captain Voice™.

“And by that I mean, I’ve got three.”

Bucky didn’t want everyone to come along. Hell, he didn’t even want Steve to come this time. But that was his ego talking. She got away once, but this time he knew what he was expecting and he wouldn’t let it happen again.

“Remind me again why we’re not watching any of the doors?” Sam asked from his perch in the Egyptian exhibit.

“How many thieves do you know who just waltz in the front door?” Steve wasn’t often snippy. During missions, he was particularly professional. But, he’d be lying if he said the other night’s blunder didn’t get under his skin as well. He didn’t blame Bucky, though he felt his tension. Steve always took blame upon himself. He really should have had eyes on the crown, and more importantly his oversight had lead to the destruction of a priceless fossil, a lost crown, and destruction of privet property.

“Yeah this chick hates windows as much as Cap here hates doors.” They didn’t need to see Tony’s face to view his smirk. It was obvious- and well… Captain America had destroyed a lot of doors with his mighty shield.
Tony started to hum the beginning of Steve’s old theme song- Steve cut him off immediately. “Shut up, Tony.”

“My feelings.” Tony responded, mock pain in his voice.

Then came the crash. They could hear it from Sam’s intercom. “Shit.” He murmured.

This time it wasn’t the rooftop window that shattered, it was one at the ground level. The girl dove through the window, rolling on the floor and drawing her gun, pointing it up at the Falcon in his perch and firing. It was as if she’d known exactly where he was. The bullet missed his chest, hitting a panel at the front of his suit.

Sam jumped off the perch to dive down at the woman. He extended his wings only to find out, too late, that one wouldn’t open. The bullet had jammed into one of the main panels of his suit in just the right brittle section. He cursed, trying to right himself with one wing, twirling to the ground in a graceless spiral.

The Falcon continued his path downward, heading straight for a series of glass cases. The woman ran from her crouched position, springing up beside him as he neared the floor and delivered a kick to his side, sending him propelling to a display of stuffed mannequins. It should have added insult to injury, but it was a much softer landing by comparison to the glass cases.

When Sam’s world stopped spinning, he stood up on unsteady legs, using one of the mannequins that was still standing as a support. The girl was gone. “I’m grounded.” He groaned, taking off his goggles and rubbing his head.

“Stay put. I’m coming.” Steve murmured, pushing off the wall he’d been crouched beside.

“Stay in position, Rodgers!” Whenever they were on a mission, Steve and Tony fought for dominance like a couple of children. It was a constant mystery as to who was really in charge of the whole thing. Most of the time the team just followed whoever’s orders sounded more reasonable, or they acted as a team, using the information given to them to make the best call for their actions. But it didn’t quell Steve and Tony’s bickering.

In this case however, things had been decided for him. Their target landed in front of the star-spangled hero, stopping his charge for the Egyptian exhibit. With that mask in place he couldn’t see her smile. “Captain.” She said sweetly. The sweet tone didn’t seem to be mocking. It was almost like she was genuinely happy to see him.

A tone that was contradicted by the balled fist she had aimed for his perfect face. Steve flicked his shield from his back and thrusted it in front of the fist. When her fist made contact with the shield, the sound reverberated around the room. Such a hit should have shattered the girl’s hand. But to Steve’s surprise and confusion, she pulled back and used the force of her punch to skid backwards away from the super soldier.

“Most men are opposed to protection.” She murmured, standing back with her hip cocked, the mask muffling her voice.

“I’m old fashioned.” Steve shot back. There was a pause-- a tension between them as if they were waiting to see who would blink first. It was Steve.

He threw his shield in the girl’s direction and charged after it. She dropped to her knees, the disk flying over her head, kicking her leg out as the Captain approached, knocking out his knees and sending him onto his back. She pressed her palms to the floor and lifted her lower body up, twisting to throw her heels downward on the blue clad man.

He rolled out of the way, sending her heels into the marble floor and creating a crack that webbed out from the impact.

Steve sprung to his feet and ran to where his shield had embedded itself in one of the opposing pillars, yanking it from the stone with great effort. The Captain turned in time to see the thief running at him. She leapt into the air, using the momentum of her fall to deliver a kick to the captain.

He was seeing a pattern, she did a lot of her combat with her legs, preferring kicks over punches.

He crouched and held his shield over his head, bracing himself as her boot came down on it. He pushed up, forcing the girl upwards to the ceiling. Lowering his shield, he looked up to see the girl gripping the chandelier.

The girl kicked her legs, swinging from the chandelier. She built enough momentum to let go of the sparkling decoration and drop onto the ledge of the second floor. She hooked herself against the banister and swung over. “Thanks for the lift.”

Steve cussed and ground his teeth. “Language.” Tony called over the intercom.

Steve ignored him. “She’s heading your way, Buck.”

Bucky smirked and dug his metal fingers into the column he’d been hiding behind. “Copy.”

He heard steady footsteps and watched from around the corner as the woman approached the necklace. She lifted the case and set it down on the floor, as if trying to cause minimal damage this time. She plucked the jeweled necklace from its headless torso display and placed it around her neck, turning in the direction where Bucky was shrouded by shadows.

“What do you think, handsome? Is it my color?” She cocked a hip and pushed the mannequin off of the podium to rest her elbow there, posing. “I’ve never been a big fan of the way emeralds look on me.” She murmured, her fingers caressing the main gem that hung low on her neck.

“You’d look better in sapphire.” Bucky mumbled, stepping out of the shadows.

“Oh good! I was worried I’d have to come drag you out here.” She purred, though Bucky’s jaw tightened. He walked closer to the woman. She eyed his shoulders, focused on the way he moved. In her mind she compared him to a panther, slinking closer to it’s pray. She pushed away from the podium so they could circle each other and for that moment nothing else existed.

“Someone’s mad about last time.” She smirked behind her mask, tilting her head to the side.

“Didn’t realize how strong you were last time.” Bucky stopped his pacing, all muscles wound tight under his black clothing.

The thief mimicked the action, stopping in her tracks, the only thing moving was the necklace between her breasts. It rose and fell with each calculating breath. “That was stupid of you.”

With that Bucky charged at her, gripping her around the waist and pinning her back against the podium. He reached beside her and gripped her wrist in a vice with his metal hand, struggling to hold her in place. She hooked her legs upwards, folding herself over and dislodging his arms from her waist and wrist, gripping his neck between her knees. She used her new position as leverage, resting her forearms back on the podium for stability and twisting her lower body to knock the man off his feet.

With Bucky on his back, he curled and thrusted back up to get on his feet, the woman, crouched on the podium. He drew two of his guns from his hips and fired at her, forcing her to spring upwards to avoid the bullets. She ran across the room, Bucky’s bullets following her movements until she slid over a row of display cases and ducked behind them for cover.

“Calm down terminator. We want her alive.” Tony flew into the room, dropping down with a thud, the Captain right behind him.

Tony lifted his hands, palms of his suit glowing as they powered up for a blast.

“Alright Miley Cyrus, give it up.” Bucky and Steve looked at Tony with confused expressions. Bucky arched a brow, and Steve squinted.

Sam came in in time to explain. “Because she came in like a wrecking ball.” He muttered, gun drawn.

“I thought it was clever.” Tony murmured defensively. Bucky and Steve were still baffled but let it go, peering at the jewelry display case that the woman had hid behind. Bucky holstered one of his guns in favor of keeping only one pointed in her direction. No sound came from behind the case.

They remained in an unrequited stand off until Bucky got frustrated and became the first to move. Tony reached forward, taking Bucky’s shoulder in a tight fist to keep him back, but even in his iron suit Bucky shrugged the hand off.

The former Winter Soldier jumped onto the case, pointing his gun downward at-


His blue eyes narrowed and he barred his teeth, growling deep in his chest. “Son of a bitch.” There was a hole clearly punched or kicked in the base of the wall large enough for the thief to fit through.

“Language.” Tony called for the second time that night.

“One goddamn time.” The Captain muttered, shooting Tony a look.


“How many avengers does it take to shut down one thief?” Sam grumbled in the morning after they’d all been well rested from the night before and had finished licking their wounds.

“Evidently a number greater than four.” Tony commented, throwing himself into one of the armchairs in the lounge. “But hey if we’re bringing more in- how about we make it the young ones. You know. Ones that’ll get my jokes. I keep forgetting Captain Grandpa and Sargent Senior Citizen over there aren’t hip.”

“She’s strong.” Steve commented, rubbing the back of his neck which he’d tweaked in his fight with the woman. In reality, it was already healed. The memory was enough to make him sore.

“Let’s change your name to Captain Obvious.” Tony murmured, throwing his arm over his eyes as if to block out the sunshine that had started to coat the compound.

Steve rolled his eyes and sat down on the couch next to Sam while Bucky remained standing behind it, his arms crossed over his chest.

“What I mean is that she’s not human.” Steve muttered. Sam nodded and picked up the TV remote, flipping on the news.

“What is she then?” Sam mumbled. He ached in places he didn’t even know he had. He wasn’t going to run today. Steve would have to drag him kicking and screaming like a man baby.

“Asgardian maybe?”

Tony interjected Cap’s thought process immediately. “Nope. Doesn’t sound like a runaway thespian when she speaks.”

“A white ass Hulk?” Sam tried. Tony snorted. He didn’t need to correct that one. That was obviously out.

There was a silence that fell over the room, all eyes on the TV without really watching it. They couldn’t hear it over the wheels turning in their heads anyway.

“A super soldier.” Bucky said suddenly in a horsed hush.

All eyes turned to look at him. “I thought they were all killed by Zemo in Siberia.” Steve’s brow crinkled and Tony frowned. They all tried not to bring up Siberia. Obviously, it wasn’t a happy memory. All had been forgiven but not forgotten. Well, as forgiven as it could be. Tony still harbored some underlying resentment towards the metal armed member of their team. He knew it wasn’t necessarily Bucky’s doing, but those scars ran deep.

“They were,” Bucky amended quickly. “But in your 21st century I can’t imagine someone hasn’t managed to copy it.”

“Or something like it.” Tony amended, “HYDRA?” Steve shrugged and cocked a brow at Tony’s guess. “What would hydra want with museum pieces?”

Sam hissed against the chatter. “Shh! They’re talking about the artifacts on the news.”

Tony reached for the remote instinctively and turned up the volume. Some people just always had to be in control of the remote.

“- and in an odd twist of fate the three priceless treasures that had been stolen this week have found their way back home. The pieces were returned to their rightful museums in seamless condition as if they hadn’t been stolen in the first place.” The woman on the screen stated in her best announcer voice, using the Smithsonian as a backdrop for her story.

“Guess the thief had a guilty conscious.” Her co-anchor back at the station added to which the woman nodded with a clearly fake laugh. “Or a change of heart.” She added before they switched topics.

“Why would she give them back?” Steve muttered, running his hand over his brow in frustration.

“She said green wasn’t her color.” Bucky murmured sarcastically. He was bitter. It was clear in his tone.

Steve leaned back, molding into the couch and pinched his brow, sucking in a frustrated breath. “I’m so damn lost.” He mumbled, the hand at his brow shifting upwards to run through his blonde hair.
“That makes four of us.” Sam tilted his head back, he could use a nap.

Tony scoffed softly but didn’t add anything.


If Bucky’s face often looked pissed, then it looked furious today. He never had to worry about someone talking to him on his run, he didn’t even have to worry about anyone looking at him half the time. But today his face clearly said, ‘don’t even look at me’. As a result, all innocent bystanders practically dove out of the way to avoid him.

Well, almost all.

As Bucky came around the corner, he had to slide to a stop to avoid colliding with a woman. His sneakers skidded against the ground, kicking up what little rocks where there, bringing him chest to chest with Cassandra. She flinched, as if bracing for impact, but it never came. She smiled brightly at Bucky, a Starbucks pink liquid in one hand and a muffin in the other. “Hey.” She said simply, putting the straw between pale pink lips.

“Hey.” He replied sheepishly after a moment of hesitation. “Sorry I… My mind was elsewhere.” He mumbled as she took a sip of her drink.

“Well why don’t you follow me to the shop and tell me about where your minds been?” She asked and gestured with her head in the direction of the shop. “Got here early so I thought I’d go to the coffee shop and pick up some breakfast.”

Bucky looked at the pink drink and arched a brow. “No coffee?”

“Doesn’t work for me.” She replied, though she rushed to add. “I don’t like it anyway. Tastes like tar.” She fished her keys out of the back pocket of her jeans. Finally- a decent view. He looked down at her ass unabashed, only looking up when the door opened. He followed her in, closing the door behind him.

“And since you’re here I might as well put you to work.” She grinned and pointed to the boxes by the door. “They’re kinda heavy for me.”

Bucky smirked and picked up the first bulky box, walking to set it on the back counter where she could sort it. “Anything for you, baby doll.” He murmured with a wink. Spending time around this woman really did bring the old Bucky back. For the time he was with her the weight of the world seemed to be off his shoulders.

Cassandra smiled and bit her lip, a nervous habit it would seem.

Bucky could feel her eyes on him and despite her apparent shyness she made no move to avert her gaze. She followed the path of his arms where flesh mirrored metal, listening to the gears adjust in his metal arms like a symphony and watching the muscles shift and flex under his flesh.

“Shivery isn’t dead after all.” She giggled, taking off her jacket and placing it on the chair at the counter. For this, unfortunately, she had to avert her gaze, turning her back to him.

“It just got frozen for a couple decades.” He shot her a look over his shoulder and his smile faded. “What’s that?” He gestured to her forearm with his chin since his arms were full.

Following his gaze, she looked to her arm which had a harsh purple bruise around her wrist, spanning up half her forearm. Her eyes appeared to glaze over it quickly and she lifted her arms and looked down as if inspecting herself completely. “What’s what?” She looked at Bucky, brows up and eyes wide in an innocent expression.

Bucky dropped the box on the counter and took her right arm gently in his metal hand, letting her wrist rest in his palm. “This.” Blue eyes narrowed, his flesh hand taking hers gingerly so he could inspect the bruise.
“Oh!” She exclaimed as if she hadn’t seen it. It was rather impossible to miss. “I must have bumped into something.” She slipped her hand from Bucky’s and rubbed at her wrist tenderly with a bright smile and a shrug of her shoulders. “As you know I’m not very graceful.”

She laughed at the joke at her own expense but Bucky’s skeptical gaze remained. The bruise was fresh, only a few hours old at most judging by it’s deep coloring. Bruises didn’t start to yellow until about three days after infliction. At four hours they were a light purple and at twenty-four a deeper one. This bruise was between the two. She would remember how she got it.

Even through her absentminded rubbing of the area, Bucky could make out it’s shape. An oval like formation on the top of her forearm, four long and narrow bruises on the side and one wrapping under to connect with the four. It was as if she’d been gripped. Though each section had wider areas of blank space than a normal hand’s knuckles would create where they met.

Bucky opened his mouth to speak when the front door chimed and a man and woman pushing a baby carriage came in. “Morning Cassie!” They pipped up, giving a little nod and mouthing a ‘good morning’ to Bucky as well though they didn’t know him.

Cassandra turned her head to regard the family of three with one of her signature bright smiles. “Good morning Mr. and Mrs. Thomson… And Baby Thomson.” She added jokingly. The brunette turned her focus back to Bucky and shrugged. “Duty calls. I’ll see you tomorrow, yeah?”

Bucky gave a short nod and with that Cassandra walked over to the regular customers and he made his way out of the store with one more glance over his shoulder.

A variety of thoughts were rocketing through Bucky’s already scrambled mind but they weren’t adding up.

Chapter Text

“I grabbed her arm last time we fought and Cassandra had a bruise in the exact same place.” Bucky was insistent, not even a little out of breath as he explained his concern to Steve during their jog. For once Sam was right beside them. But they were going much slower than their normal pace. They didn’t point that out to Sam. Let the poor guy dream he was improving to a super soldier level.

“That’s weird, I’ll give you that.” Steve breathed out, looking to a huffing and puffing Sam to his right.

“If that chick is all drugged up like you two, wouldn’t that bruise have healed by now?” It was impressive that Sam could get a full sentence out like that.

Steve looked back at Bucky and nodded with a shrug of his shoulders and a raised brow as if to say, “He’s got a point”.

Bucky had to admit-- that was bothering him too. It was true, if Cassandra was the woman stealing from the museums, and said woman was indeed a product of the serum, she wouldn’t still have her injuries. Maybe he was just trying to unite his two obsessions.

His secret was out, so there was really no reason to try to subtly peek into the little toy store. He stopped in front of it completely, his hand on the door handle as he looked up through the door’s window. His brow crinkled in confusion. There was another girl there, unusual considering Cassandra worked every day as far as he could tell. He opened the door and peeked his head in, the blonde at the counter smiled and looked up at him, putting down her book. “Morning!” She said in a typical cheery tone that most people in retail mastered early on.

Where Cassandra was in her early to mid-twenties, this girl seemed to be just into her teens. “Is uh… Cassandra working today?” It felt awkward asking
The girl tilted her head and then shook it. “No I think she had like, a doctor’s appointment or something. She should be back tomorrow though.” With that she smiled, took another long look at Bucky from head to toe as if to memorize his features and looked down at the book she had been reading. “I’ll let her know you stopped by though.”

That seemed to be the end of the conversation so Bucky shut the door and turned to see Sam and Steve smiling. “You got it bad.” Sam murmured teasingly, though in Steve’s eyes there was a degree of fondness for his friend’s attraction. “Tomorrow lover-boy.” Sam called over his shoulder as he ran off to get some semblance of a head start.

Bucky, ever competitive, turned on his heals to give chase, only to be stopped by a hand on his shoulder. “Buck,” he murmured, watching Sam go. “Let him dream.” Bucky gave Steve a look and crossed his arms, standing still to let Sam get a bit of distance. They’d outrun him anyway.


“Couldn’t let me have one time could you? Not even one damn time?” Sam was grumbling as they go to their desired floor of the tower, elevator doors opening up to their lounge.

“Gotta keep you firmly grounded in reality.” The was the only thing Bucky would say on the matter- as childish as it was. After all, he couldn’t stand at the toy store forever- Cassandra wasn’t even there.

Steve ignored the two bickering and regarded Natasha who was sprawled out on the couch, tablet in hand. It made her look as though she was working, in reality she was just scrolling through potential brain games. She’d beaten the last three she downloaded and was in the market for a new one.

“Where’s Tony at?” The Black Widow, pointed over the couch in a general direction without looking up from the bright screen. “Lab.” She said simply, offering no explanation beyond that. Though it wasn’t really needed. Tony was always in his lab tinkering with one thing or another.

Before Steve could make his way towards Stark’s “happy place”, foot steps echoed down the hall accompanied by the gentle murmurs of a conversation.

“—and if that happens all you have to do is-…” Tony emerged from the hall and stopped short, the subtle click of Mary-Janes against the hard floor halting in turn. Tony and a young woman stared at three other pairs of eyes. “Ah, Gentlemen. Back from your run so soon? Well no matter this,” he gestured to the young woman beside him, “is Cassandra.”

The girl gave a sheepish smile to the boys. “Captain, Mr. Wilson, Sargent Barnes.” Sam leaned over to Bucky to whisper. “It’s Mr. Steal Your Girl.” Bucky subtly, if it could be called that, shoved Sam with his shoulder as he walked forward.

“Oh. You all know each other?” Tony asked as Cassandra tapped the heel of her right foot against the floor nervously. “Yes. They pass by my work during their morning jog.” Her hazel eyes glanced up through her vail of black lashes, directed at Bucky.

“Your co-worker said you had a doctor’s appointment.” Accusation was heavy in his tone. Not that he had any right to dictate what she could and couldn’t do. He’d admired her from a far for weeks, but he’d only spoken to her twice. Three times if this impromptu interaction counted.

The girl seemed to falter a bit, tugging at her black skirt with intricate patterns. “Yes well I couldn’t tell them I was attending a job interview now could I?” She looked up at Tony pointedly who elaborated.

“The towers get’n tight boys. I can’t keep tabs on you all twenty-four/seven.” All three men arched their brows, while Natasha appeared to not even be paying attention. “When have you ever-…” As if Steve was going to get that sentence out without being interrupted.

“Meetings, needs, food stock, entertainment, I can’t be in charge of everything—and poor FRIDAY is exhausted.” The AI in question spoke up with her disembodied voice. “As a program Mr. Stark, I feel nothing.” Tony pointed upward in the general direction of the voice. “Don’t go getting humble on me FRIDAY.”

Tony continued his speech, pacing as he spoke, swinging his arms dramatically. “We need help around here and so I took the liberty of interviewing potential tower secretaries.”

“You didn’t mention anything about interviewing-…” Again, Steve was cut off. Maybe he just shouldn’t talk to Tony at all. “I don’t have to tell you everything. You’re not my diary, Rodgers.”

Tony put his hand on Cassandra’s shoulder, the other on his hip. “I think this little lady has the qualities needed for the job.” He stated proudly. Clearly he had made his decision. Bucky couldn’t help but see a flash of red when Tony put his hand on the girl’s shoulder. For a moment he had a twisted fantasy revolving around breaking the playboy’s fingers.

“Buuuut,” Cassandra started, looking up at the millionaire. “As I was telling Mr. Stark, I have a loyalty to the toy store. I can’t abandon them just yet.” She was firm in her answer, there was no room for discussion.
Tony removed his hand from the girl’s shoulder. “I know I know. But I’m just saying when you’re ready… I pay more.” Cassandra giggled and nodded her head. That was obvious. Not many people could pay as much as Tony Stark.

“Not like you to give up so easily Stark.” Steve cracked open the water bottle in his hand, bringing it to his lips. He’d retrieved it during Tony’s rant.

“Well Rodgers, I admire a girl with conviction.” Tony replied, placing a hand at the small of Cassandra’s back and walking her forward. “Come along dear. We’ll set you up with a ride home.”

“No.” Bucky said firmly, taking the girl by her upper arm and pulling her away from the tower owner as gently as he could while still dislodging his hand from her back. He didn’t like it when he touched her. “I’ll take her home.” He looked at the girl with his steely blues and added as an afterthought, “If that’s okay with you.”

Cassandra blushed a deep shade of pink, swallowing thickly. For a quick moment, she looked over at Tony who gave a disapproving look as if communicating with the girl through the glance. It was such a subtle exchange it could have easily been missed. It wasn’t lost on Bucky and it made him all the more possessive.

“Yes.” She answered finally, flashing her signature bright smile that practically forced Bucky to smile back. He placed his left hand on the small of her back, as if the action would wash away Tony’s touch. “Let me change and I’ll be back in a moment.” He walked her over to a chair for her to sit- in which she did, crossing one legging clad leg over the other. “No rush.” She assured him. “You have a nice home… tower… thing.”

Bucky passed by Steve on his was to the hallway. “Don’t let Stark touch her.” He whispered to him in a no-nonsense tone.


Upon his return, Bucky wore tight jeans, black boots, a red hanley, black jacket, and gloves. Though the gloves were fingerless, the outfit was enough to keep his metal arm away from prying eyes. Only his fingertips hinted at the deadly prosthetic.

“Afraid of motorcycles?” He asked her, tying his hair back in a short pony tail, though one betraying strand hung down by his sturdy jaw line.

“M’Not afraid of anything, Sargent.” She replied, standing from her chair to walk over to him. He placed his hand back onto the small of her back and walked her to the elevator.

“You sure?” He asked, watching as the elevator doors shut in front of them. “Lot’a girls freak out their first time.” He pressed the button for the garage floor, one hand staying at her back—the flesh one. That’s the one he always tried to use on her.

It was a long moment before she spoke again, Bucky could practically hear the debate going on within her mind though he couldn’t make out the words.

“I’m not afraid of riding dangerous machinery.”

The minute the words came out of her mouth, her face turned a bright red, instant regret prominent on her features. She was kicking herself, even though she could see the man’s pink lips form into a smirk in the reflection of the elevator doors.

When they opened, which couldn’t be soon enough for Cassandra, she stumbled forward and let her eyes wander the parking garage. There were easily a hundred vehicles neatly parked. Though there was no doubt that most of them were Tony’s, the assumption that at least one belonged to each of the members in the tower wasn’t inaccurate.

Bucky approached a black Harley-Davidson and swung one powerful leg over it to straddle the machine, leaning back to hand a helmet to his riding partner who’s cheeks were still a bright red. The way his strong thighs flexed around the bike didn’t help sooth the color there.

She took the helmet between her hands and looked at it skeptically, arching a bold, full brow. “What about you?” Bucky shrugged. “Only one helmet.” He said simply. The girl tried to push the bit of safety equipment back into his hands. “Well then you should wear it! It’s your bike.” Of course, Bucky scoffed and didn’t take the helmet, instead patting the back of the bike with his palm and pointing to his head with the other hand. “I’m practically indestructible, doll.” Blinking, the toy store clerk looked down at the helmet again and then somewhat reluctantly placed it on her head, causing Bucky to nod in approval before turning to face forward, kicking up the stand of the bike and leaving a foot on the ground to keep it balanced. “Now be a good girl and straddle this.”

A little huff of indignation left her lips behind the helmet, but she braced a hand on Bucky’s shoulder and copied his earlier movement, throwing her leg over the bike and straddling the vehicle. She’d never been happier in her life that’d she’d worn leggings. No need to flash innocent bystanders her panties.

Bucky turned the key to his bike and smiled when the girl behind him jumped, startled by the sudden vibration coursing through the machine.

With one foot still firmly on the ground, the soldier reached back and took hold of the girl’s wrists, softly guiding her covered arms around his strong torso. She took the hint, leaning into him with one hand resting at his chest, the other on his firm stomach. Her grip tightened as the engine roared and the man lifted his foot, taking off from his parking spot like a bullet from a gun. The motorcycle rushed up a stone ramp, leading to a large door that opened as he approached it.

The girl ducked, pressing her face into the mans muscular back as if they would beat the opening of the door. Of course they didn’t, narrowly missing being decapitated by the rising fixture. Had Cassandra not been so distracted by the scent of musk and leather she would have scolded him. Instead she settled for knotting her fingers in the man’s hanley.

Bucky smiled, feeling satisfied by the girls reaction. It was then that something occurred to Cassandra and she lifted her head to speak closer to the Sargent’s ear so he could hear her. “You have no idea where you’re going.” She said quickly. Bucky smirked and shrugged dismissively. “I know where I’m going.” Cassandra’s brow crinkled and after only ten minutes of driving, Bucky pulled into the back parking lot of a little diner.

He dismounted the bike and removed the helmet from the girls head, pushing the bangs from her face with a gloved hand, fingertips of his metal appendage grazing over the warm flesh. He was surprised and satisfied when she didn’t flinch away from the touch of his metal fingers. “I’m taking you to lunch.”

“Why Sargent, are you kidnapping me? A bit unorthodox way to ask a girl on a date don’t you think?” Her tone held nothing but mock offence.

The hero stepped back with a grin, holding out his hand for the girl to take. A little smile tugged at her lips, her hand fitting into his as she slid off the bike. Her foot caught as she tried to step down. She fell forward against Bucky’s chest, her hands on his shoulders. “S-Sorry,” she mumbled through her blush. “Not graceful.”

Bucky slid his hands to her waist and lifted her effortlessly to unhook her foot from the bike and set her on the ground in front of him. His hands didn’t bother to move. “Sure you’re not just pretending to be a klutz so you keep ending up in my arms?”

The girl pursed her lips with a little tilt of her head. “If only that were true. It’d save me some embarrassment.” She dislodged herself from the man and started walking in the direction of the diner. “Keep up Mister Barnes.” She called.

Bucky had no problem keeping up, he beat her to the door, holding it open for her. Smiling, she walked into the little diner. It had an old charm. One of those places that really needed to be renovated and updated, but because it wasn’t, only a choice few locals were patrons. It suited Bucky. He often ate here alone when he wanted somewhere quiet to think. The constant chatter of the tower could wear him down. It was hard to go from a world of complete silence to constant noise.

He handed one of the menus to the girl, leaving his own unopened on the table in front of him. Meanwhile, Cassandra lifted her menu and looked over it, discreetly using it as a shield for her bashfulness. When the waitress, an older woman, approached the table asking for their drink selection, Bucky spoke first. “Beer. Whatever’s on tap.” He may not have had the ability to get drunk anymore thanks to the serum, but he still liked the taste. It hadn’t changed much since the 40’s. It was nice to have some constants.

“Just a water for me please.” The girl said in a soft tone, not looking up from the menu. When the woman walked away, only then did Cassandra look up. “Aren’t you gonna look at the menu?”

Bucky shook his head. “Nah. I always get the same thing. A burger.”

The girl he’d deemed in his head to be ‘His Doll’, nodded and looked down at the menu again, with a perplexed look on her face. He leaned over, hands folded in front of him and arched a brow. “Cassandra.” He murmured. It was the first time he said her name in his husky voice and for some reason it made her eyes dart up to look at him as if simply saying her name had been a demand for attention.

“Don’t you just hate those girls that go on dates and order salads even though what they really want is a steak?” It was his subtle hint to her. He could see it in her eyes. She changed like the tides. One moment she was confident and flirting with him, the next she was shy and taring herself down internally. It wasn’t hard to spot. Bucky did it to himself, though for different reasons.

He wasn’t wrong. She knew what she wanted, but she did consider a lighter option due to the constant judgement that had been drilled into her mind from merciless mockery throughout her life.

He gave her a little wink, his smirk forming as he looked at her from the corner of his eye. The waitress approaching with their drinks stood ready to take their order. “I’ll have a double cheese burger and fries.” He murmured before casting his eyes at Cassandra who had finally stopped using her menu as a shield.

“I’ll have a cheese burger, no tomato’s please.” She handed the woman the menu.

“Any fries with that?” Cassandra hesitated, so Bucky pipped up. “Yes.”

The waitress nodded and turned to go give the order to the cook. “Their fries are good.” He assured his date. There was nothing wrong with a woman who could eat. Nothing sexy about a salad in his opinion.

If she wanted a salad that would be one thing, but he wanted her to be herself with him, right down to her choice for lunch. In his eyes, she was beautiful. His eyes made their way down her chest hidden by a mint shirt tucked into her skirt and bit his lip. Thick. He didn’t know where this fat term came from all the sudden that was used to describe every woman above a size 9. The females idolize in the 40’s had some meat. Sure, he liked a bit more than that even, but it wasn’t the body that had caught his attention when he first saw his doll in the toy store.

It was her smile.

After that smile, he found everything about her lovely. Didn’t matter her size, hair color, eye color, nothing. Just the smile.

“You never told me about what had you so flustered yesterday.” She murmured, placing her lips on the straw protruding from her glass.

Bucky flinched. He’d forgotten all about it. Cassandra could do that to him. Make him forget his stresses. He hummed, thinking about the best way to word it. Technically he wasn’t allowed to talk about missions to your average citizen. No matter how much you wanted to pin said citizen against the nearest stable surface and—

He had to stop that thought in it’s tracks or he wouldn’t be able to tactfully get through lunch.

“Just a case that’s been bothering me. The perp got away twice so… It’s just weighing on my mind a bit that’s all. Our missions are normally very successful.”

“The thief?” She inquired, arching a brow. Bucky’s brow furrowed and he looked back up at her from where his gaze once rested on his folded hands.

“It’s the biggest news story right now.” She added by way of explanation. There weren’t many high-profile cases in the media other than that right now so it wasn’t a poor guess. Most of the Avengers cases were under the radar, but this one had been gaining steady publicity due to the items in question.

“Yeah. That’s the one.” He murmured. He didn’t want to divulge too much. It may have been in the media but their end of it was still classified as most things they did as a group were.
“But she gave everything she stole back right?” She inquired with her chin resting in her palm.

“Yeah but-…” He cut himself off, his blue eyes slowly locking with hers and narrowing. “How’d you know the thief was a woman?”

The waitress came over then, setting their food in front of them. Cassandra took the opportunity to dissect her burger. She asked for no tomatoes, but she wasn’t a fan of overly huge chunks of lettuce either. She pulled the two leaves from her burger as if they’d offended her, not returning Bucky’s intense gaze. “You said so.”

Bucky picked at the fries on his plate, as if trying to select the perfect one by touch alone since he wasn’t looking at them. “I didn’t.” He knew he didn’t.

Cassandra smiled and looked up at him. “You didn’t? Must have been on the news then.” Bucky kept his eyes on her. The news hadn’t either. He knew they hadn’t because the gender of the perpetrator hadn’t been public knowledge. Cassandra looked back down at her food, away from Bucky’s intense gaze and picked up her burger with a shrug after pushing up her long sleeves a bit. “Or maybe it was Mr.Stark the mentioned it. Someone told me.” She said with an air of finality.

She took a bite of her burger and chewed slowly with a little purr of satisfaction. “Mmmn! You were right! These are delicious!” She proclaimed around a large bite. A change of subject. There was a long pause before Bucky picked up his own burger and took a bite. “Yeah. They are.” His eyes locked on her wrist.

The bruise was gone.


The conversation had moved on from there, though throughout the lunch their little exchange had been nagging at the back of his mind.

The girl had insisted that Bucky drop her off at the toy store. She was going to pick up her paycheck and take over for her coworker for the last four hours.

“Or you know, maybe I just wanna talk to my girlfriends about our date. Dissect every look, glance, and word. Girl stuff.” She joked as she slid off the bike when it stopped in front of the shop. Bucky chuckled, his previous suspicions still present, but pushed out of focus for the moment.

Smiling, she stood in front of Bucky, debating for a long moment in her own mind, if her facial expression was any indication. Finally, she walked forward, leaning into Bucky and placing a chaste peck on his stubbly jaw. “Thank you.” Her tone was sweet and genuine. Before the hero could respond the girl scurried inside the shop and shut the door, her co-worker rushing to her with a smile and a flurry of questions, occasionally glancing over the brunette’s shoulder to look at the man on the motorcycle.

Bucky smiled and revved the engine, speeding off in the direction of the tower. He had light pink lipstick stain on his face. The boys would give him crap about that later, but he wasn’t in a rush to clean it off just yet.

Chapter Text

“Maybe someone else should watch the artifact this time.” During the mission probably wasn’t the best time to be having such a conversation, but they hadn’t had time for a briefing before they caught word of their irritating thief going after another artifact in the Smithsonian. Hitting the same place twice? That seemed tacky.

“No.” Bucky said sharply to Sam, narrowing his eyes as if he was going to pluck his feathers for the very suggestion.

“You’re taking this too personal, Buck.” Steve murmured as he put on his cowl.

“It is personal.” Bucky growled. It was obvious from the very degree of emotion he was showing that this was getting under his skin. He was usually so disassociated from any emotion during a mission. Just as he had been with HYDRA, he focused on nothing but the orders he was given. But, HYDRA couldn’t be to blame 100% for that though. After all, he was a soldier before HYDRA and a soldier after.

“Third times the charm.” Sam mumbled, turning his back to perch himself in another wing of the building.

The Captain gave a little nod to Bucky to indicate his understanding and moved to the other side of the museum. This target was right in the middle of the museum. Another necklace, this time in Sapphire. The irony wasn’t lost on Bucky. The information had come right from Stark this time though he didn’t join them. Something about being too busy to participate in their ‘little game of capture the flag’.

“Let me know when you have a 20 on Heartbreaker.” Sam said through his communicator.
“Heartbreaker?” Cap asked, arching a brow that was hidden by his helmet.

“Yeah that’s what I’m calling the thief. Pain in the ass to keep calling her ‘Thief’. That’s stupid.” He mumbled defensively.

“Why Heartbreaker?” Captain Rodgers again. Bucky wasn’t contributing to the conversation. He was hyper focused at this point.

“Because she’s got a shattered heart belt buckle and matching shoulder patches? Not very observant are ya? This is why you have trouble with the ladies…” Bucky turned down his communicator so he wouldn’t have to hear Sam’s lecture on Steve’s love life. Or lack thereof. He was pretty sure Steve and Tony had a thing anyway.

Finding it difficult to tune out Sam’s persistent evaluation of his Best Friend’s love life, he scoffed and turned it off completely, shoving it in his pocket. He’d be able to hear when a fight broke out with his enhanced senses anyway. He’d turn it back on then.

“Not very smart, handsome.” Called a voice from behind him. This whole time he’d been standing in front of the necklace. He didn’t even bother to get into position. In his defense, he didn’t expect her to appear so soon.
“You’re early.” He murmured.

The voice was by his ear this time. He could feel the caress of pillow soft lips at his ear. “Didn’t want to keep you waiting.” The next sound he heard was shifting fabric, likely her pulling her mask back in place before he could get a look at her.

The woman remained pressed firmly against Bucky’s back, her hand gliding up his sturdy thigh with a feathers touch and into his pocket to retrieve the communicator. She placed her free hand on his human shoulder, her other hand lifting to his eye level in order show him the small ear piece she held between two fingers. She fluttered her black smudged eyes and dropped the little device from her fingers into her palm before clenching her fist. A little buzz sounded from her closed hand and a crack. When she opened her palm, pieces of the communicator hit the hard floor with little tapping sounds.

“What would you say…” she whispered, her gloved hand moving to his gun holster to slip the weapon free. “To a little hand to hand combat. Hm?” She reached her arms around him slowly, popping the bullet out of the chamber, and releasing the magazine from the grip. “No guns.” She dumped the magazine, each bullet hitting the floor with a deceivingly innocent chime. “No bullets.” Her hands caressed his chest, sliding down to feel for any hidden blades or weaponry. Each little knife got tossed before she unsheathed the one at his thigh and threw it forward. It hit a poster of a smiling woman right between the eyes. “No blades.” Hands made their way back up his shoulders and then down to his wrists, hooking her fingers in his gloves and slipping them off. Her hands dropped from his body and she stepped back. Each step was slow and calculated, emphasized by the click of her heels.

“Just you and me.”

Bucky turned, wearing an expression that was less like Bucky and more like the Winter Soldier. He walked towards her but she didn’t move, his motions indicating he would pass her. He made his way to the only opening to the exhibit, shutting the large oak doors with a resounding thud. He moved to the side, sliding a bulky glass case in front of the door. The man moved to the opposite wall, lifting another display with his bare hands and little effort, the gears in his metal arm clicking with the action. He set it on top of the other case in front of the door and gave it a shove to insure its security. Even with Steve’s own super strength the barricade would bide them time.

“The stakes?” He asked, returning to his position in front of his opponent, standing twenty feet from her.

The woman’s palms rested on her hips, giving an indifferent shrug. “Easy. I win you let me walk out of here with the necklace.”

Bucky crossed his arms over his wide chest, legs parted shoulder width apart in a power stance. “And when I win?”

She smiled, evident by the way her eyes crinkled a bit at their corners. “If you win,” she put proper emphasis on ‘if’, “Then I go with you without a fight or a struggle.” She held her hands out in front of her and arched a brow, pressing her wrists together. “I’ll even let your handcuff me, Soldier.”

The Sargent didn’t react, he kept still.

Shrugging, the woman pushed one foot behind her and raised her arms with balled fists. “You look real pretty when you pout like that.”

There was some sort of saying regarding poking a bear. Something about not doing it. That probably pertained in this situation. Though instead of a bear it was more like a wolf. A sexy wolf. A sexy pissed off wolf--

Charging right in the woman’s direction.

She ducked down, kicking her legs towards the soldiers, but he jumped, delivering a punishing kick to her face upon impact. Whoever said you couldn’t hit girls never dealt with one this strong.

The kick sent her sliding across the floor, forcing her to roll and catch herself before she hit the opposite wall.

She stood up on wobbly legs, the blow making her head spin for a moment as she gripped her mask covered jaw in her gloved palm and popped it back in place with a sickening crack. Narrowing her eyes at the man she ran at him, jumping onto a near by display to use it as leverage for a higher jump. She hit her desired height and flipped to gain momentum on her descent. Bending one leg, she extended the other, aiming for the hero’s head. She didn’t take the hit to the face too well.

He leaped backwards, sliding against the floor when his feet made contact with it again. He reached down, digging his metal fingers into the stone of the floor, sparks flying as they scrapped against it until he came to a stop.

When he lifted his head, the girl stood in the place she’d landed, a small crater in the ground with a series of cracks extending from it, her booted foot embedded in the shattered marble of the floor.
By now, Steve had heard the scuffle and alerted Sam. They weren’t exactly being quiet.

A thud rang out from the other side of the oak door, then another- indicating persistent shoving. “Bucky!” Steve called, but his best friend made no move to remove the makeshift barricade.

“Stay out of it Steve!” He growled. This was Bucky’s obsession- and he wasn’t about to share.

She was his mission.

Bucky charged at her, blinded by his drive he gripped her around the waist and threw her to the floor, straddling her waist. She fought to turn them, causing them to roll on the floor in a fight for the top position.
Bucky managed to throw them back over, pinning the woman back to the floor. His metal palm locked around her neck, squeezing tightly, his other hand lifting to strike her as her hands gripped at his wrist, tugging weakly in an attempt to get his hand off her throat.

Before his fist came in contact with her face, he made a split-second decision. He opened his palm and gripped her mask, ripping it from her features.

In tandem, her hand removed itself from the soldier’s metal wrist, her arm crossing over to cover the lower portion of her face just as he ripped the mask away. She curled her legs under him, dislodging his thighs from her hips and pressed the soles of her boots to his chest, giving him a hard shove and throwing him into the air and back towards the door. He hit the display cases lined in front of it with a crash, glass shattering and coating the ground.

The girl stood, keeping her arm across her face as she glared at the man among the glass. The doors shoved forward, jolting the cases as they opened just enough for the Captain and the Falcon to fit through.
There was the sound of stomping feet and shattering glass once again as the girl ran to one of the opposite windows and crossed her arms over her face to protect it as she dove through it.

“Sam!” Steve didn’t have to say more than that.

“I’m on it.” His wings unfolded from his back as the jetpack came to life. His feet left the floor and he jumped out the window after her.

“You did it, Buck. She didn’t get the necklace.” He encouraged his friend, taking his hand and helping him stand from the pile of glass he laid in.

“She cheated.” The Soldier mumbled, making Steve cock a brow.

Sam flew back in, frustration written clear on his features as he stood on the ledge. “Gone.”

Bucky growled, knocking shoulders with Steve as he passed. “You shouldn’t have interfered.”

“That what we’re calling saving your ass? Interference?” Sam snapped as he jumped down from the window.

Bucky leaned down, picking up the girl’s grey mask from the floor, his jaw tightening. “I had her.”


Bucky insisted on going on his run alone that morning. He had a mission of his own. He wanted no one with him and damn it he meant it this time. Steve and Sam respected his wishes. Of course, Sam only respected his wishes because it was an excuse for him not to run. He hadn’t worked all that hard last night but still complained of sourness from ramming his shoulder into the barricaded door repeatedly. Steve had done most of the work.

Bucky didn’t waste any time when he reached the toy store. He opened the door and stepped in to find Cassandra on her knees in front of a child.

“Oh really? Is that so?” She said in a sweet voice as the child told her a nonsense story that didn’t fit together properly. The child couldn’t have been more than two.

“Well I think your puppy is adorable. But… I also think he needs a collar. Don’t you agree?” She asked as she held a little pink stuffed dog in front of the girl, puppeteering it to make it look as though it was nodding.

“Yeah!” The little girl squealed excitedly as Cassandra stood up and made her way around the counter. She gripped the end of four ribbons, light pink, light blue, dark pink, and purple, tugging them from their spools and snipping them when they reached the proper length. She tied the ribbons around the dog’s neck and used her scissors, dragging them over the surface of the colorful strings to curl them.

When she was satisfied, she set the scissors down on the counter beside the cash register and stepped out from behind it, crouching down to present the dressed-up dog to the little girl. “Woof woof!”

The little girl giggled and took the dog, hugging it tightly as her mother picked her up from the floor. “What do you say?” She asked the girl to which she responded. “You’re welcome!” She held her head up proudly and Cassandra laughed. “Close enough! Thank you!” She called as the woman and her daughter made their way out of the store, passing Bucky and shutting the door behind her. This left Bucky and the girl alone.

“Oh! Good morning, James!” Cassandra smiled, tugging at her long blue cardigan’s sleeves.

The darling exchange between Cassandra and the little girl had Bucky forgetting what he was doing there. He opened his mouth but no sound came out.

That was alright, the woman would have interrupted him anyway. “You’re just in time,” she pointed to the tower of boxes to the left of the door. “New shipment.” She grinned and stepped back behind the counter, moving from the one in the front were her cash register sat, to the back counter behind it against the wall where the ribbon was.

“Uh yeah. No problem, doll.” He murmured, crouching down to wrap his arms around one of the boxes.

“Thanks, handsome.”

Bucky froze, looking to the side to cast a glance at the woman. “What’d you say?” He murmured in a tone barely above a whisper.

Cassandra turned her head to look at him, blinking with raised brows. “I’m sorry! Was that too forward?” She asked. “Considering you call me ‘Doll’ I’d say that evens things up.” She murmured with a giggle, turning her attention back to the inventory list she’d been looking at.

The soldier lifted the box, walking over to set it by the register, giving a little hum in understanding. “Guess you’re right.” He mumbled, his hand gliding over the black surface of the counter to grip the scissors the woman had left there.

Without warning, he flipped them in his palm and threw them with marksman precision at the back of the woman’s head.

Before they could hit the back of her head, a hand snapped up, gripping them around the blades. The woman brought her hand forward before turning her head to the side, looking at the scissors with narrowed eyes before they shifted to Bucky.

“That was rude, Soldier.”

Chapter Text

“What if I hadn’t caught that?” Cassandra murmured, flipping the scissors up and catching them at the handle. She slipped her finger in one of the openings and swung it lazily around her knuckle, letting the scissors twirl like a propeller from a plane.

Bucky hadn’t considered that. “I was pretty confident.” He lied, remaining on the other side of the counter.

“Gimmi a percentage of your confidence.” She insisted, putting the scissors down on the counter behind her as she turned, her face expressionless as if they’d been talking about the weather.

“80%.” Another lie.

“You threw a blade at my head with a 20% level of uncertainty!?” Okay, it was more serious than the weather.

“Scissors. Not a blade. Don’t be so dramatic.”

She huffed and fished her phone out of her back pocket, leaning back as she typed on it, little clicks echoing in the room. It was the only sound other than the Disney music coming softly from the speakers she was always humming. She finished whatever she’d been typing on her phone and placed it face down beside her.

“What happens now?” She murmured, biting her lip.

“That’s pretty obvious.” There was hurt in Bucky’s tone. It was subtle but it was there. All the flirting, the date, his obsession- and it was her the whole time.

Cassandra chewed on her bottom lip more firmly and gave a slow nod of her head. “It’s cliché… But it’s really not what you think, James.” She moved from the back counter, pushing herself off of it in slow unimposing movements. “I didn’t mean to lie-…”, lie wasn’t the right word. “T-To deceive you-…”, That wasn’t the right word either. But mainly because the word made her feel dirty. “I didn’t mean to not tell you.” That was as good as it was gonna get. “I couldn’t. I wasn’t allowed.”

Bucky was no stranger to restrictions. That didn’t mean he believed her. “You cheated last time.” He said firmly, stepping around the counter, moving to get into her space, their bodies inches from one another.

“I couldn’t let you find out like that.” She whispered. Was that shame in her tone?

“This isn’t much better.” He murmured, his voice husky and laced with annoyance.

“It wasn’t supposed to be like this either.” She wouldn’t make eye contact, she kept her gaze down and to the side.

His right hand reached up slowly, warm fingers coiling under her chin. He tilted her head up tenderly, forcing her hazel eyes to meet blue ones. “What was it supposed to be like then, doll?”
A small smile tugged at her lips. Him still calling her doll gave her a little bit of comfort. But, she didn’t answer. She didn’t really have one. Just not like this.

“I have to take you in, baby girl.” He dropped his hand from her face.

Cassandra sighed and put her hands on her hips stubbornly though her voice was less confident. It seemed she was only confident when she was wearing her suit. “You know I can’t let you.”
Bucky tilted his head back to regard her more completely before he backed away from her and walked over to the front door. He didn’t lock it—but he did flip the ‘open’ sign to ‘closed’. “You gonna keep your word and surrender when you loose this time?” He asked, not turning around.

The girl sighed and crossed her arms. “Come on, James. I just straightened up.”

He arched a brow, finally turning to face her. At this point she’d stepped out from behind the safety of her desk. “You’d rather do this outside in the open?” He asked.
Cassandra huffed again in frustration. “Fine. But don’t break anything okay?”

Bucky scoffed, watching as the girl took off the scarf she’d been wearing to reveal the bruise around her neck his metal hand had caused the other night. “You do all the breaking.” He murmured.

“Most of it I didn’t mean to. I’m not used to my strength yet.” She said defensively.

This conversation as a whole was far too casual for the context.

She slipped her arms out of her long cardigan and folded it neatly, placing it by the register. Her head turned, regarding him as he stepped closer to her and away from the door. “Please, James.” She implored again.

The plea fell on deaf ears. He ran at her as he had the night before, but this time he knew who his target was. He picked her up and slammed her back against the wall, the force sending two large framed pictures on the floor. Cassandra sucked in a harsh breath and wrapped her legs around the man, using her hands to push back from the wall. Bucky stumbled back from the shove and fell onto the floor with the girl still on top of him.

Bucky used his metal arm to grip her neck and throw her off of him as if she weighed nothing. She certainly weighed far more than nothing.

As luck would have it this had her crashing into a shelf of stuffed animals which quite literally softened the blow. The shelves came tumbling down with her, burying her in a pile of empty eyed fluff-balls. She stood up, the lifeless animals falling from her as she ran her fingers through her hair. Her pony tail had fallen out, sending waves of brunette over her shoulders and down her back—the same way she wore it when she stole those artifacts.

She jumped onto one of the lower shelves that made up a small isle, the store really wasn’t the best venue for fighting. In addition, she couldn’t get the best height for her drop kicks she was so fond of with such low ceilings. That didn’t stop her from trying.

Jumping from the shelf she aimed a kick at Bucky’s head, only to have him grip her ankle and shift its aim so her foot would hit the floor, causing a crack and placing her in front of him.

“Seriously, James!? I just swept!”

The avenger had no apologies to offer. He gripped her at the curve of her hips and tugged her flush against him. Cassandra froze, eyes widening. Bucky could practically see her ears perk. She pushed against his chest but all she managed to do was turn in his arms. “Time out, time out!” She hissed.

He arched a brow, looking over her head to see two people with a baby carriage walking by. The Thompson's, he’d seen that couple earlier in the week. He repositioned his arms so they wrapped around her waist in more of a caress, resting his rough chin on her shoulder as she reached back to lovingly cup the back of his neck with her hand.

The Thompson's walked by, looking through the window to wave at their favorite toy store clerk and smiled brightly at what they saw. Cassandra waved back, Mrs. Thompson touching her hand to her chest and looking at her husband with a sweet smile. Mr. Thompson smiled in return, taking his wife’s hand as his free one pushed the carriage. They disappeared from view, murmuring something about young love.

Cassandra and Bucky watched them go, maintaining the staged pose. “Okay time in.” Cassandra murmured, to which Bucky mumbled a “You sure?” And held her waist more securely, pressing her behind more firmly to his crotch. She blushed a bright red and shot him a look over her shoulder. “Really? Fighting? That does it for you?”

“Only with you, Doll.” He murmured, nudging her loose hair from her ear with his nose so he could speak into it.

“But you’re still gonna turn me in?” It was a question, but it really didn’t sound like one.

“Hm,” Bucky shrugged, remaining where he was. “Maybe I like the idea of you locked in a cage.”

“That’s cute,” She gripped the back of his neck, her loving touch turning venomous as she crouched a bit and pulled, using his weight against him to throw him forward above her. He slid against the wood floor, her heeled foot coming down to press to his chest, keeping him pinned. “You think a cage could hold me.”

He struck a blow to her leg, sending her toppling over onto one of the play tables set up with a little train for children to enjoy. She let out a little cry that could have been pain, but was likely frustration as one of the trains dug into her back between her shoulder blades.

Bucky plucked her up from the surface of the table by her neck, walking her back to one of the walls to pin her there. In return, she wrapped her legs around his hips, using him as leverage to ease the tension on her neck.

Cassandra placed her hands on the mans shoulders, squeezing tightly in a grip that could very well damage an average human. But Bucky wasn’t an average human. Far from it.
Her eyes locked with his, a pleading look in her gaze as the heels of her shoes dug into the small of his back. “James…” She choked out, his hold deepening the bruises on her neck from the night before.

Bucky faltered, his grip loosening and his gaze softening. His mind was in conflict- that was nothing new for him. On the one side, the logical one, he knew he had to take Cassandra in for what she’d done. He knew someone with abilities like himself and Steve couldn’t be allowed to walk around without surveillance. Not when that someone had already proven they were not using those abilities in question for anything positive. Bucky had made mistakes. Well- sort of. It wasn’t fair to call them mistakes when he had no power over his own decision making. As far as he could tell, Cassandra was in her right mind when she committed those crimes. Sure, no one had gotten hurt- but when would that change?

She’d gotten away from him three times. She was an obsession. But she was an obsession for another reason. Like a child he’d passed her store everyday and looked at her through the window- unable to speak to her but unable to keep his mind off thoughts of her. It was a puppy love he couldn’t shake. From her smile he’d been fooled into thinking she was inherently good. But who was to say she wasn’t?

Without his own conscious effort, his two obsessions had inevitably become one. However, each conflict had an outcome, a drive that was the opposite of what he wanted for the other. The thief and the crush had become one in the same, and it couldn’t get more inconvenient than that.

The issues at hand:
1. Taking Cassandra in would force his crush to end. He’d never see her again and feel guilty about placing his doll in a cage.
2. Not taking her in would be against his moral code and he ran the risk of her escalating and doing far worse than stealing and destruction.

A vibration to his left pulled him from his thoughts. Cassandra’s phone buzzed obnoxiously, shifting a bit across the smooth surface.

Not one to let an opportunity to pass her by, Cassandra used Bucky’s moment of distraction to hook her arm over Bucky’s and thrust down on the join, breaking his hold and forcing him to drop her.

Other than that, she wasn’t able to gain the upper hand before the soldier was on her again. She swung her leg, attempting a round house kick to his side—he blocked it, attempting a hook to her ribs which she leapt back from.

“Would. You. Just. Listen!?” She emphasized every word with either a block or an attempted strike, landing only one on Bucky’s stupid perfect jaw. He shook it off like the kiss from a butterfly’s wing and took the offensive.

“There’s. No. Excuse!” He growled. There was more here, Cassandra knew it. This went on beyond some sort of sense of justice, this was about her deceiving Bucky.

About making him look like a fool.

Cassandra felt a little pain in her chest that had nothing to do with a strike there. The strike came later. It didn’t hurt half as bad as the guilt.

The force of the punch with that cybernetic implant he called an arm brought the girl to her knees. She sucked in a breath as the air left her lungs with the blow, her eyes peering back up at Bucky from her kneeling position. With his jaw set, he raised his flesh arm, coiling it back to strike her face again when the toy store door flew open. The chime of the bells was far more ominous than usual given the position the two enhanced humans were in.

“Heel, Robo-Cop.” Standing in the doorway, phone in one hand and Louis Vuitton sun glasses in the other was Tony Stark.

Tony pressed his finger to the screen of his phone and Cassandra’s on the counter stopped it’s vibrating.

“Took you long enough…” Cassandra mumbled bitterly as she slowly got to her feet.

Tony ignored the remark and shoved his phone in the pocket of his black suit. “Come on, toots. Let’s get you back to the tower and clean ya up.”

Cassandra made her way towards Tony with Bucky standing, with a befuddled expression, right where he was. The millionaire put his hand on the girl’s back and walked her out. Several men came in when the doorway was cleared and started to clean the toy store, putting it back in order and scrubbing the rubble and blood from the floor.

Tony stood on the vacant side walk, resting Cassandra’s head in his hands to turn it this way and that, lifting it and tilting it to get a better look at the deep bruises on her neck. “Don’t you worry, super chick. We’ll take care of that back at the tower.” He mumbled as Bucky walked out to meet them, the look of confusion still prominent on his face.

His brow seemed to be in a permanent state of stress, his lips alternating between slightly parted as if to speak, to shutting in a firm frown.

“What the fuck, Stark?” Words finally came out of Bucky’s mouth.

“I’ll explain at the tower.” He responded simply, opening the door to his convertible to let Cassandra in before stepping to the driver’s side. “You come’n?” He looked up at Bucky casually, as if nothing was amiss.

Still perplexed, Bucky narrowed his eyes at Tony, then Cassandra who must have found her shoes very interesting because that’s where her eyes remained.

“I’ll meet you there.” He muttered.

He needed to take a run.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t much of a run. Not by Bucky’s standards. He took his time where a normal person would have rushed home for answers. When he did get back, he didn’t make small talk. Not in the slightest.

“Where is she?” He asked in a short tone to Steve who sat on the couch beside Clint and Sam. Steve arched a brow, pointing over his shoulder. It was clear he was blissfully unaware of what had brought Bucky’s mood down.
“In the lab with Tony.” He mumbled, hardly finishing the sentence as the male walked past the living room to the direction of the hallway. It was clear by Steve’s unassuming tone that he likely assumed Cassandra was there for some sort of interview, that Tony was trying to convince her to quit her job and be the tower assistant. That was the original story after all. “Tony wants us in briefing in 10.” He called after him before flipping back on the couch between his friends.

That’s when they caught her in the tower the first time. But how many times had she been in the tower as Tony’s guest before that?

Bucky peered through the window of the lab which separated him from a laying down Cassandra. With her eyes shut, her chest raising and falling with concentrated breaths, she laid back on a lounge similar to those that patience sat on to get their blood drawn. Her hands gripped the chair in tight fists, sweat lacing her brow.

Bucky’s gaze traced up from her hands clawing at the seat, to the crook of her arm where a needle was embedded in it. He followed it’s tubing up to an IV bag where a blue liquid dripped from the medication port.

Tony brushed her hair from her face and blotted a damp cloth at her head and temples. Despite all the frustration he had towards the girl, he couldn’t bring himself to be indifferent when Tony touched her. Ironic considering he’d spent a better part of his morning throwing blows with her.

Tony looked up from the girl who kept her eyes shut. Clearly, she wasn’t enjoying the process. He looked at Bucky and rolled back in his chair before standing and making his way to the door. Before exiting, he dimmed the lights just a bit so they wouldn’t beam down on the uncomfortable girl. “She tries to disassociate herself from this part.” The genius millionaire stated by way of explanation.

He inclined his head to the left, urging Bucky to follow him. “I’ll explain everything to the team in the brief.” Tony fished the sentence just before he could be interrupted by FRIDAY. “Mr. Stark, Mrs. Cassandra requests Mr. Barnes presence in the lab with her.” Tony arched a brow, looking up in the direction of the disembodied voice. “Why?” Tony arched a brow. It was a moment before FRIDAY spoke again. She was likely imposing the question to Cassandra.

“Mrs. Cassandra would like to explain herself to Mr. Barnes alone.” There was another pause. “She also states that this is not a request.”

A third pause.

“In addition, she says please.” Maybe Cassandra was a terrible negotiator, making a demand and then just as quickly undermining it by adding a suggestion- but it worked. Tony let out a huff through his nose and looked at Bucky over his shoulder. “Can I trust you to keep your cool and let her talk?”

Bucky gave a curt nod. It was good enough. Tony tapped a few keys on the panel by the lab door and stepped out of the way to let Bucky in though he didn’t move to brighten the lights. Cassandra’s comfort came first.

When the metal door snapped shut, Tony made his way back down the hall, he still had to inform the team of what they’d done… What he’d done.

“FRIDAY alert me of any violent activity by Barnes.” FRIDAY of course gave the affirmative. Tony didn’t completely trust Bucky even now. It was there- but it was fragile. He still regarded Bucky as unstable.

With what he’d been through though, who wouldn’t be?

Bucky entered the dim lit room and pulled up a rolling chair which he straddled to sit on backwards. He rested his folding arms on the back of the chair and arched a brow. “So?” He murmured.

Cassandra opened her eyes then, turning her head. She was thankful that Bucky was sitting on the side of her that was not obstructed by the IV. She didn’t want to look at it. There was a long awkward silence in which Cassandra looked everywhere on Bucky’s face other than his eyes.

“I don’t know where to begin.” She mumbled, turning her head to take a steady breath and look up at the ceiling.

“The beginning.” Bucky muttered to which Cassandra let out a huff.

“Oh, that’s helpful.” She shot back sarcastically, thought she quickly bit her tongue. This was not the time to be snippy. Bucky had every right to feel confused and agitated. She had to remind herself of that. “Get comfortable.” She whispered. “It’s a long story.”

She tapped her fingers against the leather of the medical lounge chair she sat in and took a breath. “I never meant to deceive you.” She risked a glance at the corner of her eye to see the expression of an impatient Bucky. Right- this wasn’t the time for apologies. Just explanations.

“I was born in a little farm town not far from here to a hard-working mother and father. My mother was a dentist and my father was a police officer in a neighboring city.” She paused. This shouldn’t hurt to talk about. The memory made her heart heavy. “My father was about to retire you know… Aren’t they always before something bad happens?” She fluttered her eyes, pushing away the tingling sensation in them that indicated their watering. She’d hardly said two sentences. It shouldn’t hurt like this.

It would always hurt.

“I was 22. My father was working one of the biggest cases his PD had ever experienced. God, I wanted him to retire. Mom wanted him to too. She wanted to get an RV and spend their time traveling…” She was getting off track again, she took a breath- Bucky waited patiently and his gaze had softened some.

“Girls were going missing in the city ranging in the ages of 18 to 25. As you can imagine with a daughter of his own, that hit home. He wanted to solve it before he retired. At the time the assumption was that the girls were being abducted as stock in the sex slave industry.” Bucky’s brow crinkled so Cassandra elaborated. Maybe that wasn’t prominent in the 40’s.

“People kidnap young girls, normally as young as in their teens and force them into prostitution. They’re abused and manipulated in the most awful conditions. Men, and perhaps women pay the man in charge to rape the girls. It’s terrible.” She took a deep breath. “It was at its peek only 5 years ago. It’s likely still thriving though you don’t hear about it as much.” She mumbled, shaking her head.

“Anyway, that was the case my father thought he was solving. He had some inclination that it wasn’t though- a nagging in the back of his mind. The females kidnaped for the sex trade are often in their young teens so the kidnappers can get longevity out of them before they essentially ‘break’.” She had to take another breath. “So, it didn’t fit the profile of the abductions. These girls were too old. There was also a theory that this was the act of some sort of serial killer. Very ‘Jack the Ripper’. The news was delighted. But there was little to back up that story and it soon fizzled out. To have a serial killer you have to have bodies as an indication. There were none.”
Cassandra looked back at Bucky again. She hadn’t noticed her gaze had once again shifted to the ceiling. “You can see why this case nagged at my father’s subconscious.” She closed her eyes. Whether it was to regain her composure or contemplate how to continue, Bucky couldn’t say.

“As is often the standard with large cases like this, the PD set up a sting. They had one of their female officers pose as a decoy. These abductions had no specific common intersection- meaning there didn’t seem to be one location in particular where the kidnappers would pluck their targets from. They seemed sporadic. A lack of pattern can be very frustrating such cases. The only thing they knew was that the abductions were in areas with low population on the outskirts of the city, commonly developing suburban areas. In addition, the kidnappers didn’t have a type. Race, physical attributes, hair color, eye color, it all didn’t matter as it normally does, especially with serial killers, kidnappers, or rapists. The only thing consistent was the age range. Everything else was a crapshoot—a gamble—a game of chance.”

She closed her eyes as if remembering something she wasn’t physically there for was possible and continued. “For weeks, they had this officer of 24 walk around areas like the ones the girls had been kidnapped in and for weeks they got nothing. My father was about to call off the investigation and try a new tactic. But it payed off and eventually at the peek of their frustration, they obtained the ideal scenario. A black van with tinted windows pulled along the undercover officer and three men in black tactical gear jumped out. She put up a minimal fight as was expected and ultimately allowed the men to drag her into the van. My father and two additional undercover cars stocked them from a distance.”

Cassandra knew she didn’t have to explain why. Bucky was a military man. The officers set it up this way so that the kidnappers would hopefully take them to the missing girls. Hence why they didn’t arrest them at that very moment.

“When my dad and his guys got to the scene, it wasn’t what they expected. Using the SWAT Team they infiltrated a building that looked to be abandoned only to find it packed with scientific equipment more suited for a sci-fi movie than a bunch of burly kidnapers.”

“HYDRA.” Bucky said simply to which Cassandra nodded somberly. “They didn’t know what they were walking into. My father just wanted to rescue those girls.” Her eyes started to water again. “The girls were strapped to tables, a blue liquid being forced into their arms via syringes and IVs. There was screaming, so much screaming. It would have haunted my dad forever if not for what happened next.”

She paused, it was a struggle for her to remember. The pause lasted a long while, as if she was debating if she even wanted to continue. She hadn’t thought about it for so long. A shaky breath made it’s way past her lips. She was about to continue when she felt a warm hand in her own. She looked down.

Bucky’s featured had softened, his thumb rubbing little circles on the back of the girl’s hand, coaxing her to continue while hopefully pulling her back from the intensity of the memory.

Cassandra smiled weakly, focusing her eyes on his twirling thumb and the sensation of light calluses dancing on her skin. It gave her something else to think about other than the pain in her chest.

“There was a shootout. My father was outgunned. They didn’t have a chance.” She squeezed her eyes shut. “They didn’t know what they were walking into.” She repeated, choking back a sob.

Bucky lifted his free hand, the metal one, placing it on her forehead and stroking it lightly, the chill of the metal soothing her slightly. “It’s okay… You can stop.” He whispered. Though he didn’t want her to- she hadn’t answered any of his nagging questions yet.

She shook her head. “No. I can keep going.” She was more encouraging herself than Bucky. She took a breath through her nose, the next part of her tale coming out in a rush, as if saying it faster would disassociate herself from the story.

“Before my father… He was wounded and took cover. He took that moment to radio for backup and explain what he saw. HYDRA bailed, knowing SHEILD would likely get wind of it. They set the building on fire along with everything inside it-.” She choked on her own words again. “Including all the girls… and my father.” She bit at her lips, taking a shaky breath to try and compose herself, but when the tears fell they wouldn’t stop. “I wanted… him… to… retire.” She managed to get out between broken sobs.

Bucky got closer to her after spinning the chair in its proper orientation so he could lean forward more easily. He stroked her tears away with his metal fingertips, she couldn’t let go of his human hand. He was likely getting much more information than the rest of the team right from the source. His anger and betrayal melted away a bit. Clearly, she was trying to make amends by giving him every painful detail. But she didn’t need to punish herself for his sake.

“Deep breaths. You don’t have to tell me everything.” She looked to him with those hazel eyes that captured him, but not the smile he’d grown to adore. He stroked her cheek. “Just you. What happened to you?” He whispered.

She shook her head. “It’s all relevant.” Cassandra whispered in a voice that was horse from trying to hold her sobs in her throat. She felt like she might vomit. She did look pale.

“HYDRA didn’t take kindly to my father’s interference…” She paused, trying to keep a straight face, but her lip quivered. “It wasn’t enough that they killed him- they wanted to take everything from him even in death.” She closed her eyes, maybe she thought that would keep the tears at bay.

“They broke into our home, they attacked my mother…” She was thinking. She was cutting out details that need not be spoken to spare herself. Bucky could tell. He knew what that was like. “I fought for my mother. I only had a kitchen knife and no talent in combat, but in a life or death situation I held my own.” Another pause and her eyes opened again. “I couldn’t save her.”

Another breath, “I guess they saw something in my determination. When I woke I was in some sort of test facility. Stone ceiling, stone floors, no windows. It was so cold Bucky.” Bucky tried to interrupt her again, to tell her she could spare anything that would throw her into a fit of PTSD. How could his doll have gone through so much. She seemed so positive- so happy, always smiling. It broke his heart to think it may not be genuine- that it masked pain. The idea that the smile that had brought him comfort was a mask was heartbreaking.

“There were others there. I heard the same screams my father heard. Just different victims.” She laughed bitterly. “And I knew why they were screaming. I felt the same pain.” She looked at Bucky, she’d stopped crying. It was easier to talk about the pain she went through physically than the pain of loosing her parents. “It hurt so bad. I didn’t know what they were doing.”

She raised her hand that was not tangled with Bucky’s drawing attention to the needle in her arm without looking at it herself. “All the girls were injected with liquid like this. I didn’t know what it was. All I knew was that it hurt. It was like your veins were on fire, being pumped with lava and venom, while your body felt like ice. After a time, the sensation of fire and ice blended together, but the pain didn’t diminish. It remained constant. Never lessening, never increasing. Not for me. Just constant even pain teetering me on one end of sanity- close to my tipping point.” Her eyes seemed far away now. It was as if she was looking at something far away that Bucky couldn’t see.

He knew the pain she spoke of. The serum had been given to him so long ago- but you didn’t forget that sort of pain. For most of his transition he was comatose, put out while they amputated his arm to replace it with the weapon it was now.

“I couldn’t tell you how long it was. Days, maybe weeks. It couldn’t have been hours. It couldn’t have been. It felt so long. I don’t remember how long. I can’t. But I remember the faces. I remember the other girls.” Cassandra squeezed Bucky’s hand and the word selfless came to mind. She was only truly upset when she was speaking about the pain she saw in others.

“They died. All of them. And it wasn’t quick or painless.” She whispered, squeezing Bucky’s hand more tightly. “So many of them wound up deformed, as if their muscles couldn’t handle their new strength, bulging and bubbling in mangled patterns. Skin splitting, blood. So much blood--.” Bucky lifted his fingers, pressing them to her lips, shaking his head. “What happened to you?” he pressed, putting emphasis on ‘you’.

She nodded. “They were trying to recreate the serum that produced you and Steve. I was one of their test subjects. I don’t even know if any of us were supposed to survive. As far as I could tell we were guinea pigs being used to perfect the serum only to be disposed of later. I assume they were using females because they were less likely to be uncontrollable if the serum did work. They had to be easy to put down. The absence of a female could also be more easily dismissed as the victim of a sex crime. It’s what my father’s PD thought after all.”

Cassandra looked up at the IV bag, it was nearly empty, only 1/4th left. “I didn’t die. The serum worked but it wasn’t perfect.” She gestured to herself. “Hence why I’m not a shapely walking goddess compared to you and Steve who came out as gods.” Bucky shot her a look that said he did not agree with her assessment but he knew it wasn’t the time to scold her. Later.

“They threw away the other test subjects, the ones that were dead or dying. However, they put me on ice, saving me for future study. But that didn’t happen.” She looked at Bucky with pursed lips. “Widow released all the SHEILD intel to the public, after she did that, the HYDRA scientists abandoned their work and fled. Around that time, your team enabled HYDRA to gain possession of Loki’s staff and they started their focus on that new experiment that produced Wanda and her brother. I was forgotten. It was a blessing in disguise. I wouldn’t have to endure anymore testing. But I was frozen in time, I didn’t know the difference.”

The girl gripped at the air with her needle bound hand- pumping it as if to keep the blue liquid flowing through her veins. “Then you all had your fight. Your little… Civil War… and after that the team split. Tony was understandably very bitter about the whole thing for a long while after. Soon after Steve turned his back on him, he continued his work as a hero, as you well know, going where the organization deemed necessary. He got a tip on an abandoned HYDRA base and went to investigate as instructed so see if anything still lingered,”

“He said he didn’t find anything.” She smiled a little. It was the ghost of the smile he loved, but it was there. “He found me.” She took a deep breath, the veins in her arm with the needle implanted raising a bit as she clenched her fist. “After finding my file left among the dust, he thawed me out and offered me a fresh start.”

Now Bucky felt he could interrupt. “Then why the stealing?” He murmured, feeling that Cassandra was calm enough now to where he could release her hand. However, she wouldn’t let it go and her eyes turned to him with a panicked expression, as if letting him go would give him the opportunity to storm out. She wasn’t sure how we would react to the next bit of information.

“At first Mr.Stark’s reasoning for thawing me was not entirely selfless.” That wasn’t shocking. She took a breath. “You have to remember- at this point your fight with him had just happened and the wounds of your encounter and the splitting of the team was fresh and oozing.”

She paused as if gauging his reaction, but he kept a straight face so Cassandra continued. “Tony was defeated by you both. If he hadn’t taken out your arm, the fight would have been far closer than it was. As it was he couldn’t take both of you. If something like that happened again… if he couldn’t let go of his pain… His desire for revenge… He needed a super soldier by his side. It became evident that day that only a super soldier could defeat another.” She swallowed thickly.

“I was his backup plan. Someone who could help bring your down if needed.” Instantly Bucky tried to pull his hand away, the pain and rage in his heart returning. FRIDAY gave a little alert signal that would likely intensify if Bucky’s heart beat didn’t level and alert Tony.

Cassandra sat up a little and squeezed his hand tighter. “James… James…” She murmured in a pleading tone. “You have to remember that this came into existence right after your battle. The wounds were fresh! He needed time to heal.” His jaw set but he kept still and judging by FRIDAY’s lack of reaction, his heart rate was dropping. “It was before the team got back together. Yes Tony kept me in the wings as a backup plan if HYDRA’s influence on you could not be fixed but things changed!” The monitors attached to her chest gave rapid beeps as her own heart rate raced with her panic.

Bucky nodded slowly. “Okay. Okay. I’m not mad.” It wasn’t completely true. “Just continue.” He said in a soft tone.

The girl didn’t question it- she was just grateful she was being given the opportunity to explain. “He offered me a home, a job, a new life, all in exchange for my strength and my promise that I would fight against you if needed.” Bucky interrupted then.

“Why did you agree?”

“What choice did I have, James? I had no family, no home, no life to return to. Tony was giving me a ‘do-over’. He was giving me everything I needed to have a normal life and protecting me from HYDRA.” Surely Bucky could understand that.

He could. It didn’t mean he liked it. He didn’t like the idea that the object of his affection was always planned as a weapon against him.

“It all changed though.” She whispered with a smile. “Tony called off the arrangement when his wound had healed and you’d all reunited. But he kept me in the wings as possible back up for future situations. He allowed me to have a normal life. And for two years I got to work in that little toy store.” Her smile brightened.

“And then one day you ran by… And then I got selfish.” There was a little blush on her cheeks but shame in her eyes. “Originally Tony had a plan to test me against you. That plan consisted of stealing priceless artifacts in a way that would warrant the Avenger’s interference. That way he could test my abilities against you in a real world setting in which no civilians would be harmed- but you also wouldn’t hold back.” She shrugged. “As I said, these plans were all called off after he’d mostly forgiven you. But when I saw you run by… I just wanted to know you… Any way I could.” She bit her lip.

“I asked Tony to put the plan back in motion under the guise of testing myself so that if I was needed, I knew I could be helpful. But I really just wanted interaction with you. Regardless, Tony agreed… And here we are.” She murmured the last part, finally daring a glance at Bucky who’s features had thankfully softened.

Bucky’s heart had eased and he managed a smile that was subtle but there. “And this?” He asked, gesturing to the IV. He wanted to make sure he’d covered all the questions he had.

Cassandra dared to look at it thought she knew it may make her light headed. “With me actually utilizing my abilities to their full potential for the first time, Tony proceeded to run tests which is why you caught me with him in the tower. I had to pretend he was hiring me as an assistant so our game could continue.” She murmured sheepishly. “Anyway, we discovered that along with the aesthetic imperfections were genetic imperfections when compared to you and Steve.”

Bucky arched a brow so Cassandra elaborated. “Basically, I don’t heal like you and Steve. Yes, I can take a punch and yes I’m, stronger than an average human but I heal and get hurt like an average human with a high pain tolerance.” Bucky went pale. He’d almost shot her that day. She likely wouldn’t have survived if he had. That must be why Tony stopped him. She squeezed his hand, this time to comfort him.

“This doesn’t mean I’m fragile,” she insisted. “Tony injects me with this,” she pointed to the IV without looking at it this time. “It’s similar to the serum, but its temporary. It only serves to boost the effects of the serum already in my body allowing me to heal.” She smiled. “Thanks to the serum already in my body, it’s tough enough to withstand blows without breaking a body part- but I still cut and bruise, and a gun shot wound would take much longer to recover from if at all. The main effect is shown on my skin, that’s where I sustain most of my injuries but my bones are tough. They haven’t broken yet.” She giggled, it was the giggle he loved. “But I’m sure that has something to do with Tony’s enhancement serum here.”

Cassandra didn’t need to turn her head to know the IV was empty, the bruises on her neck lightening in color and dissipating gradually. “Could you…” She pointed to her arm without looking at it.

Bucky moved to the other side of her and lifted the medical tape on her arm, rolling it in his hand and tossing it aside thoughtlessly to slowly pull the IV needle from her arm. It was longer than she thought and she winced as it left her body.

Thanks, apparently, to Tony’s serum, the little hole caused by the needle quickly healed, leaving a little bead of blood lingering on the surface. “What if Steve or I took this?” Bucky asked curiously to which Cassandra shrugged. “You’re already perfect. So, it probably wouldn’t do anything.”

Bucky’s smirk tugged at his lips. He leaned over the girl and placed his hands on either side of Cassandra, boxing her in against the chair and keeping her caged between his arms. “You think I’m perfect, Doll?”

Cassandra blushed deeply and she smiled, her lips pursing lightly. “Yeah you’re alright.” She murmured playfully. She was relieved to see that expression on his face. Just as relieved as Cassandra was to see the smirk on his.

“Do you forgive me?” She whispered, finding it impossible to make eye contact with those perfect baby blues.

Smirking, he leaned down, his lips only a few centimeters from her pink ones, only to have him change course at the last moment and kiss the corner of them. “In light of the circumstances…” His lips brushed against her cheek on their path to her ear, whispered softly. “I’ll think about it.”

That edge of play was heavy on his tongue so Cassandra gave him an incredulous look but didn’t push for a true answer. It was possible Bucky was still a little hurt.

“Why didn’t you just talk to me?” He asked when he pulled back to look down at her, though he didn’t move his arms. The girl could likely ask him the exact same question but didn’t.

“Didn’t you enjoy our game?” She whispered, biting her lip as his forehead rested against hers. A little purr left his lips but before he was able to offer a comeback- the door burst open.

“Damn it Barnes I told you—“ Two iron clad hands, glowing bright and angry pointed in the direction of Bucky and Cassandra before they lowered. “FRIDAY I said call me if he gets violent!” he huffed, lifting his hands to pinch the bridge of his nose. A blonde super soldier peeked over Tony’s shoulder, blushing a bright red when he cast eyes upon his best friend and the girl.

“His heart rate increased to extensive levels as did Miss Cassandra’s. It was an easy mistake.” Came the disembodied female voice.

Bucky stood up straight, removing himself from Cassandra with a sigh. “Didn’t know you were her dad, Tony.” He murmured, helping Cassandra to sit up slowly. She was a little dizzy. But it wasn’t because of the needle.

“Does that make Steve her mommy?” Steve raised a brow and shot Tony a look. Tony in turn tilted his head in the direction of the IV bag, shrugging his shoulders.

“In order to make the serum I give Cassandra I had to use some of your DNA and work backwards. Obviously its not perfect but it does what we need it to.” Tony smirked, proud of himself.

Steve looked completely outraged. “You used my DNA? Tony that’s a complete invasion of my—I don’t know- my privacy!”

Bucky cocked a brow. “How’d you even get your hands on a decent amount of Steve’s DNA to make it?”

There was a long pause.

Tony’s smirk turned into a grin.

Steve turned as red as a tomato, eyes wide before he coughed and looked away.

Cassandra blinked before a smile spread across her face with a little blush of her own. “Oh wow.”

Bucky snorted. “Knew it.”

Steve quickly changed the subject. “Are you coming to help us or not, Buck?”

Bucky arched a brow and Cassandra slowly stood beside him with equal confusion. “Help with what?”

Tony smirked, still clearly very proud of himself and rested his hands on his hips. “Moving Cassandra into the tower. We’ve got boxes to load so make yourself useful Robocop.”

Cassandra was clearly surprised. “I didn’t pack any-“

Tony interrupted. “I took care of it for ya, toots.”

Steve arched a brow. “In my day they had services that assisted in moving.” He mumbled. To which Tony responded, “That’s why I’ve got you people. Avengers assemble!”

Steve pinched the bridge of his nose and stayed put as Tony passed him. He was back a moment later to peek his head in upon deeming the team wasn’t moving fast enough.

“Maybe we should change it to, ‘Avengers move your asses’.”

Chapter Text

“You had everything packed?” Cassandra tried to keep her voice level, but there was some panic there in the undertone.

“Of course.” Tony said flatly, watching each box come down the stairs and pile into the moving van without lifting a finger himself.

“And who… Packed it?” She asked as she dropped a particularly heavy box onto the platform of the truck, the edge in her voice quite obvious now.

“Does it matter?” Tony asked, raising his sun glasses to place them on the top of his head so he could regard the girl in her true colors, not the multichrome gold she’d been before.

“Yes! Who went through my stuff Tony? I have personal things!” She stomped her foot to which Bucky smirked, watching the display from the window of her apartment which just so happened to be right above the toy store she’d worked in. It was the first time he’d seen her act this way. Sure, he’d seen her loose her temper in battle every now and then, but this was cute. This was like a puppy barking as loud as it could, trying to be intimidating. It didn’t work.

Ironic considering what she was capable of. He knew first hand.

“Don’t raise your voice to your father.” Tony said in a firm tone which left Cassandra debating if she wanted to punch his arm or not. “Besides if it’s your panties you’re worried about don’t worry, that drawer was just dumped into one of the boxes. No one went through it.”

That did seem to be Cassandra’s number one concern because she turned a bright red and she lifted her finger to point it in Tony’s face. It was bad enough someone even opened her drawer of panties, let alone dumped them out into a box so she’d have to refold everything.

As much as Bucky was enjoying seeing these new layers of the girl, he figured he’d step in before Tony lost a leg against the ruffled beauty. He jumped out the window, leaving the last box to Steve and landed beside her before wrapping his arms around her from behind and picking her up. “That’s enough of that now. Let’s not anger our new addition.” With that he walked the girl over to the motorcycle and plopped her down on the back of it before getting on himself. “We’ll meet you back at the tower.” Bucky called over the roar of his engine.

Cassandra, not one to be thwarted, nor distracted by a devastatingly handsome man handling her, turned around and pointed at Tony, one hand keeping a firm grip onto Bucky’s shoulder. “This isn’t over Stark!” She cried out as they sped off to the direction of the tower, the moving truck pulling out of its spot a moment later.


“Do you think Tony knows the meaning of the word ‘Privacy’?” Cassandra asked as she hauled one of the remaining boxes into her new room in the tower. It was just down the hall form Bucky’s.

Luckily Cassandra didn’t own much so moving her had been a relatively quick process even without a professional moving company. If this whole hero thing didn’t work out, the Avengers could take up moving as a profession.

“He’s got some sort of computer dame that watches our every move throughout the tower. You tell me if he understands ‘privacy’.” Bucky shot back, a little arch in his brow as he placed the box on what was now Cassandra’s floor.

The former toy store clerk set her box on the floor beside Bucky’s with a ‘thump’ and sat on her unadorned bed with a huff. “She can’t uhh… See into our rooms can she?... Or bathrooms?” She probably shouldn’t have asked. This could be one of those ‘better off not knowing’ sort of things.

Bucky chuckled, “Not that I know of.” He bent down to pick up the box Cassandra had just sat down with the intention of setting it on top of another to save room. “But she can hear though. So when you bring a boy home you gotta be real quiet, Doll.”

“I’d bring a man home. Not a boy.” Cassandra scoffed and rolled her eyes. “But, I’ll keep that in mind, Sargent Barnes.” She mumbled. Though her eyes rolled, she couldn’t stop their path straight to Bucky’s ass in those tight pants as he bent over to pick up her abandoned box.

Dear lord that was a beautiful bottom.

When Bucky stood with the box, he paused, making a little humming sound to indicate acknowledgement. Cassandra, thinking she’d been caught staring, looked everywhere but at Bucky. She settled on up, as if the ceiling held the answers to all of life’s great mysteries. Because looking up wasn’t suspicious at all.

Bucky looked over his shoulder and arched a brow. “This is a heavy box.” He stated it as if he was answering an unspoken question to which Cassandra arched a brow right back. “And?”

The male super soldier dropped the box on top of the one that he had carried into the room. The box thumped against the surface of the other, rattling the contents on the inside. “Careful!” Cassandra scolded, getting to her feet. “You’ll break something, Barnes!”

Bucky turned, hands on his hips, head tilted back like a father about to reprimand a child. “You carried this box up.”

Cassandra balked, “Yeah. I’m very strong. In case you forgot so soon…”

“You didn’t need me to carry any of those boxes in your store.”

It took Cassandra a moment to process what he was talking about and when she did, she laughed, bending over and resting her hands on her knees to steady herself. “You’re mad about that?” She managed to get out between a fit of giggles. Bucky’s ‘fatherly’ expression however didn’t change, giving Cassandra pause. She stood up straight, looking a little sheepish and shrugged her shoulders.

“I… Ya know, had to play the part of a normal girl. I didn’t want you to make the connection.” Her voice was just above a whisper, as if she truly was in trouble and afraid to raise her voice. When she did look back at Bucky’s face, he was smirking.

“That the only reason?” He asked, making Cassandra purse her lips. How dare he have the gull to pretend to scold her? The nerve.

She mimicked his smirk and shrugged her shoulders. In a moment of boldness, which she normally only expressed when in uniform, she moved in front of Bucky and with the two fingers of her right hand, walked her way up from his navel, to his collar bone, a little blush on her cheeks at her own behavior- but also because touching Bucky’s torso was like touching a brick wall. “Guess I just like the way you look when doing manual labor…” her finger tips stopped their walking and traced from his collar bone over his metal arm. He flinched just a little at the contact to the impressive prosthetic, but didn’t pull away. “Look’n all big and strong.” She bit her lip and looked up at his face, away from her own fingers and blushed. She was met with those piercing blue eyes that burned into her own so deeply that she had to pull away.

“Besides… Guy’s don’t like when girls are strong… Or big…” She mumbled the last part under her breath. Mentally, she hit herself. Why did she always have to do that? Call attention to the fact that she wasn’t a skinny little model or a lean goddess like Widow? If she didn’t call attention to it maybe people wouldn’t notice. But that was wishful thinking. There was a louder voice in her head that said if she didn’t mention it someone else will—and that would hurt worse.

Her self-deprecating thoughts were interrupted when she felt a warm arm and a cold one coil around her waist from behind. Rough stubble rubbed against her exposed shoulder as Bucky’s chin rested there, his voice that raw honey she’d grown to dream about before each of their encounters. “I like my girls big and strong.” He murmured, keeping Cassandra captured in his grip which just made her pale cheeks turn red once again. She was concerned being around Bucky would turn her cheeks a permanent shade of pink that darkened to red whenever he was around.

“I’m not strong all the time.” There she went again, bringing herself down. But it was true. She wasn’t strong all the time. After all, she fought like a super soldier but she got hurt like a human.
Bucky had a firm rebuttal for such talk. “You can be strong and still need help.” His tone left no room for argument. “I need it all the time.” His tone became more somber and Cassandra had to stop herself from saying anything else. Who was she to tare herself down, to be a downer when Bucky had been through so much himself. She had no room to talk about image issues when Bucky had been used as a killing machine since the 1940s.

But Bucky understood self-hatred. He understood it better than anyone.

Cassandra quickly changed the subject, putting on a smile and squirming in Bucky’s arms. “Sargent Barnes if I didn’t know any better I’d say you were trying to cop a feel.” She teased. She tried to wiggle her way out of Bucky’s grip but said grip tightened, a growl in her ear making her brows shoot up and her body quit moving.

“I don’t wanna hear you talking poorly about yourself again.” He mumbled against her ear gruffly. He gave her thigh a little pat before pulling away. It was subtle but there was a decent amount of force behind it as if to emphasize his point. “Can’t have our new teammate thinking that way,” he turned to one of the smaller boxes on the floor, pulling at the tape with his metal fingers. “Now lets get you situated.”

Cassandra paused for a moment, the little smack on her thigh leaving a tingling sensation that wasn’t pain. His words embedded themselves in her head. ‘Teammate’. That’s right, she was part of the team now. Any self-doubt or depreciation could easily be seen as weakness. Weakness that would hinder the team rather than help it. All weaknesses needed to be pushed away… Or shared at the very least. For the team.

The girl cleared her throat and turned to look at Bucky who was still struggling with the tape on the top of the box. “James I need to… Tell you something…I…”

A taring sound hit her ears and cut her off. Evidently Bucky had grown frustrated with the tape and opted to tare the box in half like a savage, spilling its contents all over the floor. The super soldierette cried out in indignation and covered her lips. “JAMES BUCHANAN BARNES!” She shrieked from behind her fingers, her whole face mimicking the shade of a tomato.

She was going to kill Tony. Or Bucky. One of them was going to die. Probably Tony. Killing Bucky would be a disservice to the world. He was too handsome to die.

Cassandra stared, frozen in horror as her panties littered the floor. Adding to the humiliation, Bucky proceeded to pick up a pair of lacy aqua boy-short cut panties and dangled them on his finger, a smirk on those perfect pink lips. “Cute selection, Baby Doll.” He arched a brow, that smirk widening as Cassandra stuttered, unable to get a sentence out. He twirled them on his finger and lifted them to get a better look. “Wanna play dress up, My doll?”

The girl dove forward. Landing on her knees in front of him, she snatched the panties out of his hands crumpling them in her hand to hide them and placing that fisted hand behind her back for good measure. “James!”

Said man looked at her with brows up, his gaze turning to the floor where there were many other panties to choose from. When his eyes turned back up to Cassandra he gestured with his head and eyes to the pile on the floor as if to say ‘your actions are completely pointless you silly girl I have more’.

Letting out another shriek she shook her head. “Stop looking Bucky!”

The Sargent smirked, leaning forward into the embarrassed girl’s space. If Cassandra thought Bucky’s smirk couldn’t get wider—she was wrong. It threatened to turn into a full-blown grin. “That’s the first time you’ve called me Bucky.” His voice was a purr that would have made Cassandra’s knees weak if she hadn’t already been sitting on them. “I like it almost as much as when you call me ‘Sargent’.”

Cassandra was so distracted by Bucky’s lips inches from her own that she didn’t notice his right hand reaching behind her to snatch the panties out of her palm to hold it above her head.

“Bucky!” She squealed, reaching up to try and get the intimate fabric back. “Uhg you’re like a little boy!” She growled, getting higher on her knees to try and reach Bucky’s thieving hand.

Bucky leaned back, his metal hand reaching back into the pile of panties to steady himself as he held the panties away from the girl. She hissed and crawled onto his lap, straddling him without putting all of her weight on him. She hovered a bit above his lap, knees on either side of his lap as she reached for his human hand.

If Bucky was being mischievous, or trying to prove a point—Cassandra couldn’t tell; but the man bucked his hips, knocking her off balance enough to send her plopping into his lap. “Much better.” He murmured, a grin on his face that exposed his perfect teeth. Perhaps Bucky wanted to show Cassandra she could put all her weight on him without him being the least bit uncomfortable, he was practically indestructible after all- or maybe he was just trying to tease her. Again- she couldn’t tell.

With Cassandra frozen in his lap, Bucky dropped the panties and sent them fluttering into the pile of panties behind him. Metal and flesh rested on either hip, tugging the soldier girl higher on his lap, his forehead resting against hers. “You’re lovely.” He mumbled, throwing Cassandra off guard. She looked at him timidly, as if her gaze could fall anywhere but his eyes with him so close.

“You think I’m lovely?” She asked in a whisper. She didn’t think anyone could find her lovely. He nodded simply, his smile remaining. “It’s not what I think, Doll. It’s what I know. It’s what you are.”

But Cassandra didn’t smile. Instead she pulled back a bit to avert her eyes. She looked unsure- millions of comments to the contrary swimming around in her head. Bucky could practically hear them. We wanted nothing more at that moment then to silence them.

He cupped the back of the girls neck and pulled her forward again to force her gaze back to his blue one. “Beautiful.” He whispered, as if correcting himself. “That’s why you’re my Doll.” Cassandra did smile a bit then, arching a brow playfully.

“Yours huh?” She murmured. “I don’t remember agreeing to that.” It was difficult to sound serious. Especially in such a situation.

“I’ve made my decision,” He nudged his nose along her cheek, gliding to shift her hair out of the way of her ear. “I’m just wait’n on yours, Doll.”

Shock was written all over the girl’s face for many reasons. Most of which had to do with her insecurities. Sitting, pressed up against a man who was more firm that a brand-new mattress with muscles that looked like they were borrowed from a Greek god—how could he possibly be attracted to… Her?

Because where she found faults, he found beauty.

“I’m not perfect.” She whispered, shutting her eyes. Her tone indicated shame. Shame that weighed heavy on her heart.

The chill of metal fingers slid gently across her cheek in a caress so soft she would have missed it had she not opened her eyes to check.

Bucky ran the metal pad of his thumb over her bottom lip, the ghost of a smile resting on his own. “Me neither.”

The cold press of metal was replaced with the warm tingling of lips against her own. Her eyes fluttered shut, plump pink lips forming to the males with gentle uncertainty.

But where her lips were uncertain, Bucky’s were sure. The hand at the back of her neck urged her closer, his lips parting against hers, coaxing hers open to deepen the kiss.

Timidly, her tongue slipped forward, testing the waters for herself, only to be met with the tip of his own.

Bucky shifted as Cassandra’s arms wrapped around his neck, his right arm moving behind him again to support them both more comfortably, urging the girl to rest more of her weight against him. She did so—

And immediately regretted her decisions. Bucky placed his metal hand on her waist, repositioning his human hand which planted into the pile of panties and bumped something firm and long hiding within the pile.

Bucky heard the sound before he felt the vibration against his hand. “Wha..?” He broke the kiss to look over his shoulder, missing the expression the mortified girl’s face.

Her hazel eyes went wide and her skin went from red to pale as if she’d been standing on a stage in just her underwear forced to give a speech on Einstein’s theory of relativity. A subject she didn’t study.

In a panic, she leaped to her feet, pulling Bucky with her before spinning them around and placing her hands on his shoulder blades to push him out the door. “Out out out!” She chanted in a sing song voice, high pitched with her trepidation.

Cassandra shoved him out the door, leaving him stunned in the hallway. “I can finish unpacking myself, Sargent Barnes!” She punched the panel on the wall inside her room, forcing the door to snap shut behind the male.

Bucky stood there for a moment, his brain trying to catch up with what had transpired. He turned around, facing the door with an arched brow. Coincidentally, the door opened a crack, the red-faced girl peeking out from the slit.

“Thank you, Bucky.” With that, the door snapped shut again, the only sound coming from behind it was the thumping of feet that rushed to the buzzing pile on the floor. Causing Bucky to smirk.


Chapter Text

“No run today huh?”

Bucky stopped hitting the punching bag and turned his head to look at his best friend. He let out a huff of air through his pink lips and shrugged his shoulders. “Just thought I’d shake things up. Try something different.” A metal arm came up to press against the heavy bag to stop its swaying.

“Mm,” Steve hummed simply, already in his usual running gear; a shirt that was too tight and loose-fitting pants. “So, it has nothing to do with the fact that Cassandra doesn’t work in the toy store on our rout anymore?”

“No.” Bucky said flatly… and perhaps too quickly.

It had everything to do with it.

With the object of his affection so close by, what was the point of leaving the tower? Hell, he might never leave the tower again. The only thing that had gotten him in the outside world at all was their run through town all to pass that shop and peek in the window.

Everything he wanted was inside the tower. Fuck socializing. Progression be damned.

Steve smiled knowingly and pushed himself from the wall he’d been leaning on. “It’s just as well. Sam was planning on giving you more grief than you could handle. Said something about a commotion coming from Cassandra’s room yesterday.”

Bucky looked down at his hands, adjusting the tape he had wrapped around his human hand. It wasn’t to express embarrassment, it was mainly to hide his smirk. “Sam needs to quit flap’n his lips.” It was slang like that that showed his age. The 40s died hard.

Steve chuckled, a little smile on his face. It would be a lie if he said he didn’t notice the new light in Bucky’s eyes when he was around Cassandra. It was like having the old Bucky back. Before the darkness. “Well if you change your mind, I’m sure you could catch up.”

The former weapon of mass destruction nodded his head in acknowledgement and turned his back, regarding the punching bag once more.
It was several minutes before he was pulled from his thoughts- or rather lack of thoughts. His mind was often blank when he worked out. He heard the door to the gym open but he didn’t turn his head. It wasn’t until he heard the light clearing of a throat that he slapped his hand against the bag in front of him to still it and looked over his shoulder to regard a smiling Cassandra.

“Morn’n Sarge.” She said sweetly, clearly a morning person.

Bucky turned to regard her completely, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. She was cladded in a long, baggy razorback tank top and skin tight black leggings with aqua waves up the sides to match the shirt.

Cute even in work out attire.

As Bucky stared at her, she took the black hair tie from her wrist with her teeth and kept it firmly between her pearly whites while she gathered her long brown hair in two hands, bundling the locks at the crown of her head before holding it tight with one hand and retrieving the tie with the other. She quickly bound her hair into the pony-tail, giving a little tug to secure it. How she’d had all that hair down during their encounters and still fought was beyond him.

Well he was one to talk. His hair wasn’t exactly short for a man.

His eyes were wondering before he had a chance to stop himself, if he wanted to stop himself that is. She’d turned her back to him, walking to the fountain on the other side of the room to fill her water bottle which was also a shade of blue. It wasn’t hard to guess her favorite color. She bent at the waist, giving him a shameless view of her ass. That was another thing they had in common, they appreciated each other’s behinds. Bucky tilted his head to brazenly get a better view and like an answered prayer the girl crouched down to adjust the laces on her shoes, stretching the spandex of her pants over that round bottom. His tongue ran over his lower lip, overwhelmed with a sudden urge to get his hands on her.

“Bucky?” The male looked back up at Cassandra’s face. Had she been talking? When had she stood back up?

Taking in his blank expression, Cassandra rolled her eyes, fighting a smile. “I asked if you would mind some company?”

Bucky lifted his shirt to wipe the sweat from his brow, shaking his head. “No. Not at all. This is your home now too, Doll.”

Cassandra smiled for two reasons. One was the sentiment of having a home with the mismatched bunch of heros, the second was because the Adonis in front of her lifted his shirt to expose skin she hadn’t yet seen. Her eyes darted to his stomach and burrowed a hole there. Stunning—he looked like he was sculpted by the gods, not DNA. No this wasn’t science. This had to be magic. Witchcraft. No man could be so perfect.

So perfect. There was a little pang of despair that hit her chest. He was fit, strong, godlike, why did he have any interest in her at all? Standing next to him—she just didn’t belong. Say this little game they were playing wasn’t a game at all—say it blossomed into something more serious than sexual tension, fleeting looks, and kisses…What would people say? They would say exactly what she was thinking, ‘How could he be attracted to her?’ She was so absorbed in her own thoughts she didn’t notice Bucky had come closer until his crooked finger was tucked under her chin, lifting her gaze to his own.

“You’re thinking too much.” He murmured, a little smile on his face.

Cassandra’s eyes widened. Did he have mind reading powers? No. The serum didn’t do that did it? If it did she got robbed.

Bucky chuckled, having read her expression. “You just looked deep in thought and… By the way that cute nose of yours was all crinkled it probably was a thought I wouldn’t like.” He ran a finger tip over the bridge of her button nose as if to smooth it, making her smile and blush like a child.

The girl looked up and shrugged her shoulders. “Nah. I was just thinking about how each time we spared we got interrupted.” It wasn’t a lie. Because that’s what she was thinking about now. Just not two seconds ago.

That cocky smirk slid across Bucky’s face and a deep chuckle rumbled in that unfairly toned chest. “I had you on the ropes last time.”

Cassandra arched a brow and put her hands on her hips, cocking one as she pursed her lips. “You go’n wacky* on me Sarge? If ya want my two cents worth* I’d say I had YOU on the ropes.” She cocked a brow and leaned forward challengingly, giving her best 40's tough guy tone. “I put you through the wringer*.”

Bucky crossed his arms over his broad chest, the human one flexing with the action as the other whirled. “You sauced*, Doll? In my book* if Stark hadn’t come by, you’d have been done for*.” She cocked his head back in a show of dominance and shrugged his shoulders, enjoying their little play. He hadn’t used slang from his time in quite a while, other than the things that held up over time.

“How’s about a rematch then, Dreamboat*?” She fluttered her eyes wracking her brain for more 40's vocabulary.

“What are the stakes, Cookie*?” Finally, a real match up between the two of them. No dirty tactics, no interruptions. A brawl to the finish.

“If I win…” Cassandra tapped her finger on her chin and looked up and to the side, making a dramatic show of thinking. “You teach me that thing you do with your knifes.” She made a flicking motion wither fingers as if she was twirling an imaginary blade.

Bucky nodded his head, accepting the condition. “And if I win. You let me take you out on a date. A proper date.”

Cassandra smiled, a blush raising to her cheeks. She would have let him do that anyway. “Alright you-“

The man held up a finger, cutting her off as if he wasn’t done. “Dancing.”

Cassandra’s smile faded, as he thought it might. She couldn’t dance. She didn’t have a graceful bone in her body, people would stare, people would laugh, people would rip her apart. There would be videos all over the internet, she could see the titles now. ‘Big chick tries to dance with a stud-muffin’.

Well now she absolutely had to win.

Where Cassandra’s eyes narrowed and a scowl formed on her face, Bucky held his smirk. “Deal.” She said stubbornly, not one to be outdone. “10 second pin required for victory.”

Bucky nodded his approval and stepped away from his opponent, fixing the tape on his flesh hand yet again and adding a wrap around his metal knuckles. Though the metal didn’t need to be protected from cuts and scrapes from his blows like his human hand, he wanted to soften any blows against Cassandra—even if only a little.

He did not intend to go easy on her. Not even slightly. He stretched his arms above his head, listening to the cracking in his spine when he reached just the right way.

Cassandra moved to the side of the gym, picking up some spare tape and doing the same to her knuckles and removing her shoes and socks before walking over to the mat they would try to stay on. No breaking things this time. When the soldier girl turned back around to look at Bucky, his shirt was off and he was using it to dab at his face.

Like so many times before where Bucky was concerned, Cassandra’s face turned red and her almond shaped eyes widened.

Even Bucky’s bare back was chiseled. Every subtle motion of his body sent his muscles shifting under the skin; wound tight with strength and tension. How long had that tension been there? 70 years? With the horrors he’d seen would his body ever relax?

Her eyes followed the curve of his back until he turned around to face her, shirt still blotting his face. She traced his muscles with her eyes, each curve and concave making her knees weak. He wasn’t as barrel chested as Steve, and that was fine, because he was still big—just more toned. Not that size mattered…

Hazel eyes traced from his chest to his stomach, admiring the abdominals and drooling internally when she caught sight of the Adonis belt his motions had hinted at earlier. The V of his hips concaved and disappeared into the hem of his shorts, the waist band of his boxers showing due to how low the shorts were on his hips.

Another word of that V was ‘Aphrodite’s saddle’ and she could see why. Because she suddenly wanted to ride a stallion.

Another pang in her chest.

Doubt. She couldn’t ride a guy… Not without hurting him. And it probably wouldn’t be all that pleasant for the guy either.

“Your nose is crinkling again.” Bucky chided, stepping onto the mat after he too removed his shoes. “Don’t like what you see?” The tone was teasing but… Cassandra could almost hear an undertone of worry.

“Quite the opposite.” She answered before thinking better of it. But it returned the smirk to Bucky’s face, so that quelled her embarrassment.

She paused, assessing the way Bucky stood since he asked that question. His torso was tilted, his metal arm and the connecting shoulder shifting slightly behind him in this stance, like he was trying to hide it.

It was only then that Cassandra took notice of it. Real notice that is.

The scar.

Flesh, burned and stitched webbing over patches of skin, binding itself to the surface around the metal appendage. She locked eyes with Bucky, who’s blue ones held doubt: a self-consciousness she knew all too well.

As twisted as it was, it made her smile. It made her smile knowing that she wasn’t the only one who had insecurities. That this man she deemed as perfect thought of himself as less. How someone so stunning could have any concerns with his own appearance was hard to grasp. Perhaps it’s not what the arm was—but what it had done.

Cassandra approached Bucky like one may approach a wounded animal, slow and unimposing. Opening her hand, she hovered her fingertips above where flesh and metal lay forced together and looked up at him, wordlessly asking for permission.

After a minute of hesitation, Bucky nodded. He shifted his shoulder forward and Cassandra let her fingertips touch the scar. The former war machine’s whole body jolted. It was like he was trying to keep himself from moving away from the touch.

Any time that area was touched it was always to improve the weapon; to make him deadlier than he had been before. It was no wonder the touch held a negative connotation.

Cassandra brought her eyes back up to Bucky’s face, her fingers dipping and gliding over each indent of flesh and overlapping of skin. “Does it hurt?” She asked in a soft voice. She felt as though she truly was talking to a wounded animal, not a dangerous man who could snap a normal person like a twig, or a super soldier who had avoided capture for decades while shaping a century in HYDRA’s image.

“No.” He murmured, voice husky. His eyes stayed on her face, searching for something. Disgust? Fear? Cassandra didn’t know, but she knew she wasn’t displaying it.

She traced a pattern from the scar tissue to the metal arm itself, grazing the patterns that made up its structure. “This isn’t the one Hydra made.” She observed. Bucky shook his head to confirm. “New model. An upgrade.” He murmured. Though it wasn’t the arm he’d killed with, it seemed to still hold the memory of time lost.

Cassandra’s hand made its way down the shifting panels of the arm which seemed to react under her touch. When she reached his metal hand, she smiled and lifted it, holding it in both of hers. She rested the back of his hand in her left hand, using the other to trace the lines of his palm that would have been there had it been human. “It’s gentle.” She whispered, her eyes lifting to Bucky’s which crinkled at the corners with the movement of his brow, displaying confusion.

“Something so powerful… Potentially dangerous… And yet when you use it… It’s gentle.” Her pink lips twitched at the corners, her fingers sliding over his open metal palm. “Can you feel that?” She asked curiously, to which Bucky shrugged. “Not like this one.” He murmured, lifting his flesh hand into her line of sight. “Just… Pressure… I guess. But not the warmth… or the softness.” He mumbled, his voice gruff.

“This one,” he repeated, moving his human hand to graze his roughened fingertips over her silken cheek with a delicate touch. “Works better for that.”

Cassandra let out a breathy laugh. “You make’n a pass at me*, James? Or are ya just whistl’n Dixie*?” She teased, having found more 40s expressions at the back of her mind.

“No Ma’am. I’m ready to roughhouse* when you are.” Cassandra smirked at that, and without warning, she gripped the metal wrist of the hand she once so dutifully admired and gave it a firm tug, throwing Bucky back on the mat and standing over him with her hands on her hips. “Well that’s swell*, Here I was worried my wolf* was so stuck on me* he wouldn’t be willing to fight.”

“Ain’t above hit’n a dame, toots.” Bucky shot back, sweeping his legs under the woman and sending her back on her ass. She yelped and shot Bucky a look. He gave her a shrug. Fair was fair.

She swung her leg over to try and hammer it down on that flawless stomach, but Bucky quickly rolled out of the way, leaving Cassandra’s heel to smack against the mat with a muted ‘thwack’.

“Really go’n at it—aren’t we, Doll?” Bucky asked, his brow arched as he stayed in a push up position to regard the girl.

“I don’t dance.” She said simply, reverse tumbling to get herself back on her feet, springing up at the same time as Bucky.

“Don’t worry,” he gripped her wrist when he found it heading for his face, using it to twirl her and pull her to his body, his stronger arm around her waist as she was forced into a starting waltz pose. “I’ll teach you.” He smirked, holding her firmly to his chest.

A growl of discontent hit his ears, followed by a hardy knee to his side. “You won’t have to.” She said confidently, gaining some distance between them.

Bucky threw a kick at the woman, to which she jumped and twisted on her side, throwing one leg over the other while airborne to throw herself away from the kick.

“Wallflower type, huh babe?” Bucky asked with a smirk, dropping himself down to strike at her ankle as her foot came down on the mat, knocking her off balance.

Cassandra huffed and tried to right herself back on her feet, bringing her knees in to spring upwards, but Bucky was on her before she got the chance. He pinned her left wrist to the mat, his other hand gripping her right ankle as her knees curled in, holding it there.

In the twisted position, she still managed to reach her right to the back of Bucky’s neck. A move that was wide open in his hovering pose over her. She gripped his neck tightly and used her captured leg as leverage to toss him over her, dropping him like a heavy sack.

His grip released enough so she could roll over with him, straddling him. She gripped his arms and pinned him to the mat. “Got cha.” She chirped victoriously. Maybe she was self-conscious about being on him during any potential… naked wrestling, but this was different! She was pulled out of her mental tug of war by Bucky smirking. “Do you?”

The girl arched a brow, opening her lips to speak as she counted the ten seconds in her head, adding ‘Mississippi’ after each number to insure she wasn’t counting too quickly. She was so engrossed in her counting, she didn’t notice Bucky’s strong thighs shifting under her until he bucked his hips, bouncing her as if she weighted as much as a feather, and use her moment of confusion to shift his position under her.

He gained his leverage, pulling himself up on his knees as Cassandra released her grip. By the time she flopped back down from his jolt, she was in his lap, his arms around her. One hand rested at the small of her back, the other at the back of her neck.

“Think I got you.” He murmured with a smirk, their noses touching. Narrowing her eyes, she wrapped her legs around him and pulled back, falling backwards and taking him with her.

Bucky caught himself as Cassandra hit the mat, his forearms bracing against the mat with Cassandra between them, his knees on either side of her hips. She laid caged by his body, but not trapped, she had prepared to shift and knock Bucky away, until he pressed his hand gently to her forehead, his fingers coiling in the roots of her hair as he applied enough pressure to keep her head back and pressed against the mat.

His other hand reached under the arch of her back to press her body closer to him. This his lips found hers.

And she forgot what she was doing.

Bucky’s tongue forced her jaw open and tangled with hers in a different type of spar. One she was happy to let him win. Not that she needed to LET him. He wasn’t going to allow otherwise.

Her eyes fluttered, half lidded as the warm tongue tasting of lush coffee and sugar twirled around her own. She didn’t care for coffee. But she could come to like the flavor if this is how it was delivered. Her body felt warm, tingling down to her fingertips that rested limply on the mat.
Bucky pulled back and the girl blushed, a thin string of saliva connecting their lips momentarily as she laid there in a daze. The soldier smirked, licking his lips before leaning down to whisper in her ear. “10.”

Cassandra’s eyes snapped open, realization dawning on her. Bucky sat up, straddling the woman with a triumphant grin and his arms crossed.
She sat up, eyes wide and lips gaping at the audacity. “Y-You cheated!”

“Did I?” Bucky asked, feigning confusion.

“You most certainly did you scoundrel! Y-You sexual deviant! Using seduction is against the rules!” She cried out, fists clenching.
“I believe the only rule established was, ’10 second pin’.” He purred. Cassandra pushed him off and narrowed her eyes, setting her jaw in a foreshadow of a potential tantrum.

Bucky remained balanced on top of her, that cocky smirk plastered on his features. “If it’s any consolation, you seduce me just by walking through the door. So, I think it’s more than fair.”

“It’s not.” She scowled, her brow crinkling in half-hearted distain.

“Mn, don’t be mad, doll face.” He purred, grinning down at her as he brushed a lock of hair from her flustered face.

Cassandra fought to keep her scowl- but it was difficult when you had an angel on top of you. He pealed himself off of her with much obvious reluctance and helped her to her feet.

“Tomorrow. Eight O’Clock. Wanda and Natasha can help you shop and get ready.” Cassandra’s brow crinkled. “I… Need new clothes?”
Bucky shrugged. “Unless you just happen to have a 40’s dress in your closet.”

Cassandra blinked. “Huh?”

Bucky stepped off the mat and snatched his shirt from the floor, tossing it over his human shoulder to hang there loosely. “I did say a proper date, didn’t I?”

Cassandra stood there, staring blankly at the door that Bucky had so brazenly left through.

“This had either gotten a lot better—or so much worse.”

Chapter Text

“I don’t know.” Cassandra mumbled, chewing on her bottom lip as she stood in front of the little boutique that sat just down the street from her old work.

“Don’t worry. It’ll be fun.” Natasha assured her, placing her hand between the reluctant girl’s shoulder blades in an attempt to coax her forward.

“Yes. It will be fun to dress up.” Came Wanda’s voice, heavy with her exotic accent. Cassandra sometimes forgot Wanda was so young. In many ways her behaved and held herself as older than Cassandra. Perhaps that was just her confidence and Cassandra’s lack-there-of. Maybe it was because of everything she’d seen and been through.

Cassandra was pulled from her thoughts by a slightly more persistent push. “Come now. Let’s go.” Natasha guided—well, more like forced, the reluctant woman through the door.

The boutique was clearly inspired by the elegance and spunk of the 40’s. On one half of the boutique was the class: tight dresses, pencil skirts, gaudy jewelry, wrap dresses, shoulder pads galore. The other was the sass: shirtwaist dresses, hair pins, sailor dresses, and high waisted pants.

“I… Wouldn’t look good in any of these.” Cassandra murmured as the girls bobbed and weaved through the selections.

Finding clothing was difficult for Cassandra, and not because she wasn’t lean like Wanda and Natasha, hell Cassandra looked like curvy Barbie, thick in all the right places—but when Cassandra looked at herself she just saw fat. When she looked in the mirror she saw everything wrong, not everything right. It made trying on clothing a very discouraging experience and led her to wearing the same things over and over. Her self-conscious mindset was the complete opposite of how she was in her catsuit when she’d encountered Bucky. Ironically though it squeezed her tightly she felt confident and powerful—not at all as she normally felt.

The idea of trying on clothing filled her with anxiety. She sabotaged herself by thinking everything would look horrible before she even stepped into a store. As her heart rate sped up and her disparaging thoughts started to overflow, a fingertip poked her nose.

Natasha was calling her to attention, her perfectly manicured fingertip pulling back after two additional pokes. “He said you do that.”

Cassandra raised a brow. “Hm?”

“Crinkle your nose when you’re thinking too hard…” Natasha affirmed, making Cassandra blush. So, Bucky had noticed her little quarks after all. She blushed of course because it confirmed that he noticed, but more so because he spoke about her to others.

Natasha smiled. “What are you thinking about?” She asked softly. Cassandra would have said ‘Nothing’, but Wanda popped up from behind a small rack, standing on her toes to see over it. “She’s thinking poorly about herself.”

Cassandra pursed her lips and sighed. “Wanda please don’t go rooting around in my head.” She mumbled, offended by the invasion of privacy.

Wanda stepped out from behind the rack and smiled knowingly. “I didn’t.” She said matter-of-factly, “You’re just easy to read.”

Cassandra flinched and looked down, letting out a heavy sigh through her nose, causing Natasha to reach up and yank playfully on the sullen girl’s pony tail. “We’re going to have you feeling sexy and confident by sunset.”

“It’s our mission.” Wanda added.

Cassandra smiled and nodded in agreement though she wasn’t as confident as they were.

Cassandra followed the girls through the store as the hung multiple dresses on their arms, adding to a collection of dresses that she would have to shove herself into. “Think about it as Avengers training. A spy has to blend in, be a chameleon—”

“I don’t think I can do that.” Cassandra cut her off.

“You’ll learn. You’ll learn to hold herself with confidence in every situation, and that confidence will make you the most seductive person in the room.” It was a nice sentiment, but it made Cassandra scoff. Just being confident couldn’t make her sexy. Not when she didn’t look like the women you see in magazines.

“Let’s start with these.” Wanda held up an arm, which looked as if it may break from the piles of dresses on it and headed for the dressing room.

Wanda walked in first, placing a collection of dresses on each open hook. “I have to try them all?” Cassandra mumbled, dread sinking into her stomach. As girly as she was, this was not a fun process for her. She’d rather be facing HYDRA than doing this. Were dates supposed to involve torture?

“All of them.” Natasha confirmed with a nod of her head.

“Listen to Mother.” Wanda added with a cheeky grin.

“Steve is my mother.” Cassandra mumbled, walking into the glorified closet with a mirror, closing the door behind her and missing the confused expressions on the Avengerettes.

The first dress Cassandra tried on was a red wrap dress with white polka-dots. The arms had ruffled sleeves and the V neckline mimicked these ruffles.

She hated it. She looked like a big circus tent in her eyes. She couldn’t get it off fast enough. If she laid down someone may confuse her for a picnic table.

“Keep an open mind!” Wanda called through the door. Cassandra huffed but maybe Wanda was right. If she put on every dress anticipating it to look terrible—then it was going to look terrible. She tried another dress, sunshiny yellow with black buttons all the way down the front. Way too asymmetrical for her body type. Too straight. It hugged all her curves in all the wrong ways.

Peeling it from her body, she sighed and sad down, her back to the mirror. She didn’t want to see herself. She was already discouraged enough at dress too. She couldn’t even imagine dress twelve. She looked at the dress stacks protruding from the wall and sighed again. Why did it have to be a 40’s theme? Why couldn’t she wear one of her dresses she felt good in. She didn’t want to struggle through clothing options. It would just make her cranky and sad for the actual date.

For a moment she contemplated sneaking out of the boutique and hiding under a rock. She’d move to a new town, dye her hair, start a school for underprivileged children under a new name and get a cat named Fabio who was missing a tooth and had a kink in his tail—

The she saw her color peeking out from the middle of the pile. She stood up and rummaged through the fabric until she pulled out a dress that was a lovely muted shade of aqua, covered in polka-dots that were the size of quarters. Not tiny white ones like the red dress she started with.

It had cap sleeves and a sweet heart neckline. It was deigned to be slightly fitted at the top, but synched at the waist and flow and flare out. A 40’s style swing dress. It was a flattering style for her body type. She had similar modernized dresses like the one she wore when Bucky caught her.

Turning her back to the mirror, to eliminate any hasty perceptions, she slipped the dress on, smoothing the fabric before she turned around to battle her reflection.

It wasn’t much of a battle. A little smile creeped onto her face and she turned, watching the skirt catch the air and flow around her knees as she twirled. Yes. This would work.
“I think I found one I like.” She called through the door.

“Don’t you want to try the others to be sure?” Natasha called back.

“No.” Came Cassandra’s quick reply as she undressed and put the dress over her arm.

Wanda grinned. “I knew she’d pick that one.” She said proudly before Cassandra stepped out.

Natasha rolled her eyes. “She said to stay out of her head.”

Wanda smiled and shrugged her shoulders, no remorse on her face what so ever.


“Red isn’t really my color.” Cassandra protested, sitting on a stool in Wanda’s bedroom.

“Hush,” Natasha replied, “You’ll ruin my work.”

Cassandra kept her lips slightly parted but made no more sound as Natasha painted her lips a deep red. “You’ve got pretty lips.” She mumbled as she dragged the lip brush along her upper lip, making the curve of her cupid’s bow more prominent. Cassandra didn’t know if she should risk thanking her and shifting the brush. “Hanks.” She replied, not moving her mouth and losing the ‘Th’ in her gratitude.

Natasha didn’t have to do much to the woman’s brows, they were already full with a nice shape. She set to defining them before drawing a simple winged eyeliner on her lid and blush on her cheeks.

“You know… You didn’t have to do this. I could have done this part.” She was good at doing her make up. She just didn’t wear it every single day. “Let me have my fun.” Natasha argued.

Her hair however she was grateful to have Natasha do. 40’s hair was no easy achievement, especially with Cassandra’s hair being as long as it was. However, Natasha made quick work of it, using a curling iron to make her bangs hold that gravity defying wave be pinning it out of her pretty face. The rest of her hair laid loose, falling in gentle waves over her shoulders and down her back. “There we go.” Natasha mumbled, gently spinning Cassandra around to look at her reflection. To her surprise, she liked what she saw. Her little bit of confidence rose to the surface and she smiled, admiring herself with a bit more vanity than she usually carried.

“A 40’s bombshell. Bucky will feel like he stepped back in time.”

Cassandra blinked, realization hitting her like a bus. ‘A proper date.’ That’s what Bucky had said. Bucky’s idea of a proper date was one from the time he missed out on. He wanted to take her on a date that he knew, one that he was familiar with—and confident with.

Relive the things he lost.

Here she was being selfish, whining and worrying about how she looked and felt, complaining about it being a 40’s date in her mind—but this was just as much for Bucky as it was for her. With that in mind, she had every intention of carrying herself thusly.

A 40’s bombshell.

Cassandra took a deep breath and smoothed her dress, shifting it a bit at the sweetheart neckline to show some cleavage. She would pretend she was in her thief garb and be flirtatious and confident. It was her gift to Bucky, and to herself.

“Don’t wait up.” She murmured softly, picking up the black clutch on Wanda’s desk, her low heels clicking against the floor as she made her way down the hall and to the elevator.
She took a few deep breaths when the elevator door shut, trying to extinguish the lingering jitters.

Looking down at her black Maryjane’s, she took two more sobering breaths and then looked up when the elevator stopped. The doors opened, and Cassandra became increasingly thankful that she’d lifted her head.

Bucky stood on the other side of the elevator doors dressed in a uniform that had to be a perfect replica of the one he wore back in the 40’s. Her eyes trailed down his from starting up at his Sargent’s hat and his hair which was pulled back at the nape of his neck, down the metals on his chest, over his trim waist emphasized by his belt—and then quickly back up to his face because to go any lower would not have been kind to her own body.

Cassandra bit her lip before smiling, a little blush staining her cheeks. Right- not lip biting, can’t go ruining her lipstick. She popped her lips together to fix any damage she might have done and approached Bucky, who made an obvious show of looking her up and down. Much more obvious than she had been surely—but who could resist a man in uniform?

“Wow.” He said simply, giving a nervous laugh as he took her hand. “Lemme get a look at you,” he lifted her hand over her head gently, leaving it resting in his, “Give us a twirl.” He purred, to which Cassandra twirled before facing him bashfully.

“You look stunning, Doll.” He murmured, leaning in close to her with that wolfish smile of his.

“Thank you, Sargent Barnes.” She got it out smoothly enough as she linked arms with him when he offered his. She couldn’t help but notice that he wore black gloves, concealing his metal hand. Perhaps he really did want to take a trip back in time and forget everything. At least for a little while.

Cassandra would give him that. He deserved that.

“You’re looking like a million bucks yourself.” She mimicked his purr, following him out to the street where a cab waited for them.

Bucky, ever a 40’s gentleman, held open the door of the yellow cab for the girl and gestured her inside. She gave a little curtsy and smiled, getting into the car before Bucky shut the door and got in on the other side. He leaned closer to the front seat which was separated by a sheet of glass like plastic and murmured the address. An address Cassandra didn’t recognize.

As the taxi pulled away from the curb the woman started to fidget. It was the sort of fidget caused by heart palpitations that occurred from first date jitters. Though this wasn’t exactly their first date, they had had a casual one at the diner, this one made her more anxious. It was closer to a formal one. The real deal. No practice.

And mother fucking dancing.

She didn’t realize she was shaking her left leg until she felt Bucky’s hand on it. He caressed her knee with a gloved hand, running soothing circles along the surface. She looked down at the hand and smiled, a blush dusting her cheeks as the smooth fabric of the stocking she wore shifted under his touch.

“’M not that scary am I, doll?” He joked, his hand shifting slightly higher to give her thigh a gentle squeeze with this thumb and middle finger.

Forcing a laugh, she looked over at her knight in shinning green and rolled her eyes. “No. It’s not you.” She looked back down and took a breath. “I just… Haven’t been on many dates.” When she dared to look back up at Bucky’s face from the corner of her eye, she was met with confusion, not the mocking smirk she’d been expecting.

“Why not?” He asked, letting his hand slide back down to her knee, resting there as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

Cassandra gave him a look reminiscent of the way a girl may look at her friend when about to ask something like, ‘Bitch, you serious?’. However, in response Bucky’s confused expression didn’t shift. So she huffed a sigh and elaborated.

“Bucky… One I was in kyro for a rather long time,” She looked back up at his face which relaxed a little. “Not as long as you obviously. But quite a while. So there wasn’t much dating involved.” For a moment Bucky looked like there was another question on his tongue. But he decided against it and nodded, evidently satisfied with this answer. Until of course Cassandra opened her mouth again.

“And just look at me…” She mumbled. It was a voice just above a whisper, but super soldiers had good hearing and his face went from content to something resembling angry in the blink of an eye.

Bucky’s hand shifted, his palm gripping the woman’s upper thigh, her metal hand reaching over to take her right hand and pulling it towards him to lean her into him, forcing her chest against his and her face up to look at him on instinct.

“Cassandra,” It was one of the first times he’d used her name rather than a nick name. It made her blush. It also let her know she was in trouble. “Maybe I was too subtle. I don’t like when you talk like that.” His voice was firm, but a mix of a purr and a growl, causing Cassandra to sit still and listen.

“You’re beautiful,” he let go of her knee to caress her cheek with a gloved hand. “And when I have your permission, I’m gonna show you just how pretty,” He kissed her nose. “How beautiful,” he shifted his hand to capture her chin and tilt her head up before he gave her a soft peck on her painted lips. He didn’t pull back far, letting his lips brush hers as he spoke, “And how sexy you are.”

Bucky smirked and pulled back completely, looking proud of himself. “Oh, and by the way,” he leaned back down, nosing her hair out of the way as he reached her ear. “Call me Sargent tonight.”

Cassandra’s face was as red as her lipstick but she didn’t say anything, though her body shivered as his warm breath caressed her ear.

“Clear?” He murmured, a smiled tugging back on his lips, cracking the dominate demeanor.

Cassandra swallowed and nodded, shifting herself to look at his face. “Crystal.” She murmured in a hushed tone.

When the taxi stopped Bucky held out a fifty for the driver and opened his door. “Keep the change.”

Before Cassandra could open her door, Bucky was there doing so for her. He offered her his hand which she gladly took as she stepped out of the car, trying her best to appear graceful in some way. “Thank you, Sarge.” She murmured, getting her bearings.

“Shall we?” Bucky offered her his arm, which she gladly linked with her own.


Chapter Text

Instant regret.

So much regret.

It glued her to the spot, her mary-janes felt as if the heels had planted themselves to the floor and refused to let her move.
Cassandra gulped as she stood in the doorway, Bucky’s arm shifting from hers to wrap snuggly around her waist and urge her forward.
The place was packed. It was a club made to look retro and it did the job quite well. Brick walls, oak wood bar lined with old bottles of wine and booze which couldn’t possibly be from the forties for real- but damn did it look the part.

And so did the people.

It was hard to tell who worked there vs who was a guest as everyone was in 40’s attire. No doubt there was a dress code, at least for the night. Perhaps they had a 40’s theme every so often where even the patrons were expected to dress for the era.

If Cassandra had been blindfolded and dropped in the club it would have been easy to convince her that Tony had successfully created a time machine.

Her eyes glued to the dance floor, watching the swinging bodies flow effortlessly on the floor as if each move was programed into their very DNA.

A squeeze to the hip pulled Cassandra out of her thoughts. “S’matter, Doll?” Bucky murmured, though it wasn’t really a question, he knew what was wrong. So Cassandra just smiled up at him weakly. His smile back down at her was far more reassuring. He gave her another little tug with his hand at the small of her back which dislodged her heels from the floor.

“Come on. Let’s get a drink before we dance.” Cassandra looked up at him incredulously thought she followed in step with Bucky.

“We can’t get drunk.” She said flatly. Though she hadn’t been much of a drinker in her pre-serum life, it was moments like this what she missed the influence of booze and caffeine. She could have used a little liquid courage right about now if she was going to fumble on the dance floor. At the very least she could have used inebriation as an excuse for her poor dancing ability.

Bucky shrugged his shoulders and leaned up over the bar. “Gimmi a Sidecar, and a Southside for the lady.” He murmured to which the bar tender clicked his tongue and nodded his head but Bucky wasn’t paying attention to him, he sat half way on a bar stool, looking at Cassandra who’s eyes were on the dance floor as she wrung her hands together and tapped her foot against the floor.

A gloved hand covered her fidgeting ones, stilling them and forcing her to turn her head in favor of looking at Bucky who smiled reassuringly. “Sit, Doll. We’re not gonna dance yet.”

The woman looked back at the dance floor again to see the bodies twirling to the upbeat swing music. It seemed that most people were familiar with the 40’s dancing style, the rest faked it well. Bucky squeezed her hand again, calling her attention back to him. “We’re gonna take it slow, babe. They’re not playing our song yet.”

She looked down at her feet, summoning a smile and sat down at the stool beside him. The bar tender placed their drinks in front of them and Cassandra immediately picked up the glass to keep her hands from wringing themselves to pieces.

Bucky raised his glass to his lips, the amber colored liquid glazing them for a moment before he licked the substance away. His eyes never left Cassandra who’s own eyes were everywhere else from her self-induced panic.

“They’re doing a good job.” Bucky’s voice called Cassandra back to reality. She looked at him, meeting his haunting blue eyes.

“Huh?” She murmured, looking down at her drink as the ice chimed against the glass, coaxing her to drink the white liquid. She would have to depend on phycology alone to trick her mind into relaxing from the taste of the booze rather than its properties.

“Keeping this place authentic. I’m getting all nostalgic and shit.” He grinned teasingly, making Cassandra giggle in response.

“Yeah? They keeping this place authentic?” She asked, tilting her head as she took another sip of her drink.

Bucky nodded, looking to the dance floor for a moment. “Mm hm. Authentic as the day I went to war.”

Cassandra smiled, but it was a weak one. Bucky had been in war from the moment he could remember, it made her sad that it seemed that battle and chaos was his norm. It made her heart hurt—she needed to try harder to make this special. This night wasn’t about her although Bucky made her feel like everything was about her.

It was really about Bucky.

She crossed one leg over the other and took another gulp of her drink. It burned going down, sitting warm in her stomach but the buzz didn’t reach her head. “I don’t know that story.” She said quietly. He looked at her quizzically, so she clarified. “Before you went to war. I only really know about after… You’re a museum piece after all.” She teased, arching her brow as she took another sip.

He grinned at her light attitude and shrugged his shoulders. “I went out with Steve and two girls,” he looked at her from the corner of his eye and smirked when he saw her bristle a bit like a cat being pet the wrong direction. “Steve bailed on me to try and enlist again so I took the girls dancing.”
“I’m sure that was traumatic.” Cassandra murmured flatly into her drink. It shouldn’t bother her, Bucky telling her about his past with other ladies.

But… Of course it did.

Bucky chuckled because he knew. “Don’t worry, Doll. If those dames are still alive, they’re ancient.”

“And wrinkly.” Cassandra added in a petty tone.

“And wrinkly.” Bucky echoed with a smirk. “But I dashed off before the night was over. Two dames were a lot to deal with. And they weren’t really my type.” He looked Cassandra up and down, starting from her toes, lingering at her chest for a moment and then up to her eyes. “They were too scrawny.” He grinned for a moment, but that grin quickly turned into a smirk. “I would have broken them.”

A shiver ran up Cassandra’s spine and a blush raised to her cheeks. The way he said that—she didn’t need to guess his meaning. “Think you can break me, Sargent Barnes?” She murmured in a moment of boldness.

Bucky grinned, leaning a little closer to her. “I’m gonna try.” His voice was just above a whisper, if it hadn’t been for her super soldier hearing she might have missed the promise.

The man leaned back on the bar, his elbows resting on the surface as he faced the dance floor. Cassandra could hear the quiet whirling of his metal arm under his jacket. “I was also too worried about Steve to enjoy myself. Little punk ruined the mood.” Cassandra scoffed and pursed her lips. “Captain America? A mood killer? I can’t see that happening.”

The Sargent rolled his eyes which landed back on his date as the music slowed down and couples embraced each other for some slow swaying. “I think they’re playing our song now.” He murmured, putting down his glass and standing up, offering the girl his hand. “May I have this dance, Doll?”

Cassandra’s heart crawled into her throat and her tongue swelled, the panic filling her stomach again. The words in her head kept chanting like a prayer, ‘People are gonna look—people are gonna talk—people are gonna look—people are gonna talk—‘, but the hand that took hers silenced the voices and when she looked into those icy blues there was no one else but him.

She didn’t know when she had gotten on her feet, but she must have nodded her head at some point because when her gaze left his they were on the dance floor. Bucky lifted her hand above her head like he had an hour before and gave her a little twirl, but this time rather than admire her appearance, he twirled her slowly into his arms. His metal hand, still covered by a glove rested at the small of her back, while his right hand held her left one up in the proper position.

“Other hand on my shoulder, love. And let me do the work.” Cassandra obeyed, placing her free hand on his shoulder as he pulled her closer to his body so their chests were touching. “A little close for the 40’s aren’t we, Sarge?” She teased, thought a blush was creeping up her neck. She knew enough about the 40’s to know they were more reserved than now.

“There are some parts of the 40’s I don’t miss.” He teased back, the song ‘I’m Stepping Out With a Memory Tonight’* floating in the air. The tempo was slightly faster than the movement Bucky led with, but he was likely going easy on his doll.

Even as they swayed to the middle of the dancefloor, Cassandra found she wasn’t worried about the people around her, she felt safe. She felt like she was home. She felt like the arms around her were enough to protect her from any potentially judgmental gazes that were shot her way. Even if they were shot her way, she would just have to remind herself that she had the prize. That Bucky liked her, a thick girl, and everyone else was probably jealous. She didn’t know how much she believed that but maybe if she repeated it over and over again in her head it would start to become truth.

As the previous song ended and gave way to a new slow song ‘You Go to My Head’*, Cassandra was nearly completely relaxed. She didn’t think she could enjoy 40’s music, but it carried a charm that was so very Bucky. She slipped her hand out of Bucky’s and let it mirror her other hand on Bucky’s free shoulder, holding him closer. Bucky’s hands shifted to her hips in turn and he smiled as the girl rested her head on his chest. “Just like you remember?” She asked in a soft hum. Bucky rested his chin on her head and smiled. “Better than I remember.” He whispered, making his date look up. “You weren’t in my memories.” He said softly, letting his hands give a gentle squeeze to her hips.

Biting her lip, she blushed and smiled. “You’re a charmer, Barnes.” She said through a chuckle, averting her gaze to hide another blush.

“Mm.” He hummed, “Not a bad first date huh?”

Cassandra let out a short laugh that came out more like a huff of air through her nose. “Well it’s not really for first. We have the diner too.” She reminded him.

“Didn’t really count.” He said sternly, though there was laughter in his tone.

She rested her head back on his chest and laughed again. “Why’s that?”

“You weren’t being honest with me before.” He said flatly. He didn’t sound mad, he just sounded ‘matter-of-fact’.

Cassandra’s heart was in her throat again. But this time it was for a different reason. She swallowed, trying to force her heart back to her chest but it wouldn’t budge, as if it would crawl out of her mouth and speak to Bucky on its own. She cleared her throat, but her voice still came out horse. “Bucky I—”

“It’s okay.” Bucky cut her off. She looked up, crinkling her brow in confusion. “You don’t need to apologize.” He clarified.

The female super soldier gaped at him and then shook her head. “No that’s not what—”

This time it was the music that cut her off. The first notes of a horn filled the room and a song called ‘In The Mood’* started playing through the hidden modern speakers. Though the equipment was modern, the sound of the music maintained its authenticity, like it was coming through a 40’s box rather than blaring speakers of the 2000s.

Cassandra squealed, suddenly twirled by her dance partner and swung about in a most playful fashion. “Let me lead, baby doll.” He reminded the woman, a smirk on his face as he spun her around and outwards, then back into his chest where he dipped her back.

At the start, Cassandra was stiff, worried and self-conscious as he spun her this way and that—but Bucky always brought her back to him where she felt safe and warm and after a time her fear melted away and it felt like it was just the two of them. Swinging and twirling on the dance floor.

Their increased endurance meant they could last four times as long as anyone else on the floor, and soon it really was just them, with a few people scattered about at the edges of the room.

When another slow song graced the club, Bucky pulled her back into his arms, holding her there firmly as they both laughed in delight. “See. Told you I’d teach you.” He mumbled, almost scolding her for her doubt in him and herself.

“You were right.” She said through a giggle. “But don’t get used to me saying that.” She remarked breathlessly as they molded into each other, Bucky’s hands resting on her lower back, dangerously close to the curve of her ass.

She smiled as they swayed slowly, giving her time to catch her breath. After all she was only part super soldier. She needed a rest. Bucky playfully dipped her back and as she hung in his embrace her head tilted back, catching the eyes of a man at the bar. He wore no expression, his green eyes boring into hers. Her throat closed and her breath hitched, skin going pale. Paler than normal anyway.

Bucky scooped her back up, his smile fading when he saw her expression. “What’s wrong?” He asked, spinning them around again. But when he changed their positions, Cassandra didn’t see the green-eyed man, just an empty stool.

Looking right back up at Bucky’s worried expression, she smiled quickly and shook her head. “Nothing!” She encouraged him, laughing it off. “I just got a little light headed for a moment.” She flipped her bangs out of her eyes in a way that she’d hoped was flirtatious. “I don’t have the endurance you do, Sargent.”

A smirk crossed Bucky’s face. “Mn I don’t know about that. Gave me a run for my money in most of our little battles.”

“A run for your money?” Cassandra cried out in mock horror. “If memory serves I kicked your ass in all but one, and you cheated in that one!”

“You and I have a very different recollection regarding who is and is not the one who cheated.” He teased, turning to rest his hand at the small of her back, like he did when they arrived. “Shall we head back to the tower?”

Cassandra nodded, she had had fun but she couldn’t wait to get into some comfortable clothing—even though she wanted to stay up with Bucky as long as she could. Her eyes scanned the floor as Bucky tried to guide her to the front door. She quickly dug her heals in and looked up at him. “Maybe we should take the back door?”

Bucky arched a brow.

“Just hoping to avoid any potential paparazzi.” She murmured, turning to the back door.

Bucky scoffed. “There’s not many paparazzi that want to get close enough to ‘The Winter Soldier’ to snap a picture.”

Shrugging, the girl continued her path to the back door, with or without Bucky. “Well maybe they wanna check out the arm candy you’ve got.”

Normally she wouldn’t regard herself as ‘arm candy’, she didn’t have the confidence, but she really would rather use the back door.

“Can’t argue with that, toots.” He called after her, considering she was a few paces ahead of him. He easily caught up to her, opening the back door for her to slip out. She turned left, making her way down the dark ally, the chill nipping at her exposed shoulders. “The front of the building is the other way, doll.”

“It is?” She called back, glancing over her shoulder. She gestured with her head in the direction she was heading. “Street looks crowded. Let’s call a taxi on the other street.”

Cassandra would not go to the front of the building.

Bucky caught up with her and took her hand, walking threw the ally to come out the other side where a row of restaurants lined the other side of the street. It was brightly lit and not nearly as crowded as the bar-less eating establishments started to close.

“Less competition.” She said by way of justification.

The Sargent nodded and lifted his hand as a cab made its way down the street and stopped in front of them. As was in his nature, he opened the door for his date before getting in on the other side.

As they drove away from the club a weight lifted off her chest, the previous worry brought on by the green-eyed man easing from her body. She scooted closer to Bucky, taking his left hand in both of hers with a smile, a blush dusting her cheeks. “That was really fun.” She said softly, her eyes glancing up at him through her thick lashes. “I had a really nice time.” Her tone was shy, like she didn’t know what to say. She was just hoping she had done the 40s justice. Most importantly she’d hoped she did right by Bucky and made their date a step back in time for him.

He deserved that.

Bucky deserved anything she could give him.

A smile lit up his face. “I’m glad. I did too.” He laughed. “You’re a great dancer, I don’t know what you were so worried about.”

Cassandra laughed too, a bit embarrassed at being called a great dancer. She was not. “I just had a great teacher.”

Bucky grinned, watching her hands that coiled around his. “So… Maybe a glass of wine and I’ll walk you home?” Of course, home was right down the hall, so the walk would be from the kitchen to her room. She smiled and shook her head.

“I’m not ready to call it a night just yet, Sargent.” She smiled, looking at him with a blush on her cheeks but a little twinkle in her hazel eyes. “You made me a promise.”

The man arched a brow, his eyes gliding back down to her hands which held his, sitting unmoving as she tugged off the glove slowly, revealing his metallic fingers. He didn't stop her. “And what promise was that?”

Cassandra lifted his hand and brushed her painted lips over his metal palm.

“That you would try to break me.”

Chapter Text

Stark had eyes everywhere and the tower was often a buzz of activity, so avoiding people to get to the upper levels of the tower was no easy task.

Not that they were trying to avoid people per-say, but Bucky looked as if he would rip off the head of anyone who tried to deviate them from their path.

Cassandra believed he just might.

She wasn’t mad about it.

“Your place or mine.” Bucky’s grip on Cassandra’s hip tightened as she asked that question.

“Whichever is closer.” He responded flatly, as if he was trying to keep a straight face and maintain his composure, but the fire dancing behind his eyes was evident.

“They’re down the hall from each other.” She reminded him, watching the doors of the elevator and praying from them to open. Her heart wouldn’t stop fluttering in time with the butterflies in her stomach.

“Mine then.” His WAS a few feet closer.

His statement didn’t require a response—but before the girl could get one out, she was in the air. She squealed, her arms finding purpose around Bucky’s neck as he lifted her from the floor and hoisted her into his arms bridle style as if she weighed as much as an infant.

Cassandra didn’t have time to feel self-conscious, marvel at his strength, or insist that she was too heavy for Bucky to carry—he was already taking the stairs.

Her grip tightened around his neck, pulling herself close as she bounced in Bucky’s arms each time his booted foot made contact with the stares. “B-Bucky!”

“Elevator was taking too long.” He said dryly, his eyes dipping to Cassandra’s ample chest which jiggled with each step he took.

One hand removed itself from Bucky’s shoulder to cover the exposed portion of her breasts with a shameful blush. He smiled fondly and looked ahead as they got to the ‘apartment floor’, shouldering the door to force it open.

The soldier put Cassandra down, somewhat reluctantly and took her hand to drag her on behind him while she struggled to keep step. His eagerness made her happy, but it didn’t ease her nerves either. There was something to be said about a man so excited to have you that he would pick you up and take the stairs. It made her feel desired. But there was always that voice in the back of her mind.

It said such awful things.

‘You’re not good enough.’

‘He’s going to be disappointed.’

‘No. He’s going to be disgusted.’

‘You’re ugly.’


‘He’ll walk away.’

‘He’ll want you out by morning.’

‘It’s a lapse in judgement.’

These hateful whispers where silenced as they rounded a corner and nearly ran into Sam.

Sam dodged the collision with a “Wooooh,” and a cocked brow. “Watch it Sargent.” He gave a mock solute before his eyes fell on Cassandra. “Look’n good chick. What’s the hurry?”

“Fly off pigeon.” Bucky murmured, pulling Cassandra’s hand in a gentle but encouraging way to continue their path.

“Are you two…” Sam trailed off, a grin tugging at his lips before a display of white teeth took up a majority of his face. “Ohhhh you better not get busy with Starks little girl!” He called after them. “Protect your innocence, Cass-a-frass!”

Bucky rolled his eyes, Cassandra when completely red, but their journey continued.

Her mortification sent her reeling and her mind wouldn’t silence itself, until her back hit a wall (more specifically a door) and shoved her thoughts from her mind-- quite literally.

Bucky held his doll to the wall before reaching down to grip her thighs, forcing her legs to bend out from under her as he guided her legs around his waist. Her legs locked there, and her arms instinctively latched to his shoulders for support. She wasn’t sure what was causing the heat to build in the base of her stomach: the way he lifted her effortlessly—a display of his strength, the predatory look in his eyes, or the way his lips where suddenly on hers.

It was probably all three.

The scratching of his stumble against her cheeks was a perfect contrast to softness of his pink lips that stole her breath. Her thighs tightened around him, keeping her grounded in reality.

His lips molded against hers, prying them apart in a clash of teeth and tongues to force them open. As his tongue slid against hers, the taste of his drink still heavy upon it, Cassandra pried her lips back to take a breath she hadn’t realized she needed.

Flushed and panting from just a kiss, she shook her head to clear it, but Bucky didn’t need the break. His lips simply shifted from her mouth to her neck, pressing there. She tilted her head back, resting it on the door, a little whimper escaping her as his lips parted to give way to teeth that raked over her pale skin.

“Bucky…” She whispered breathlessly.

He grunted in response, suckling on the flesh between his teeth.

“Inside… The door…” Her sentences were broken, but it was difficult to speak with a super soldier teething onto your neck.

Cassandra removed a hand from Bucky’s shoulder, gripping onto the door handle the thrusting it downward without warning. The soldier fell forward for a moment and then quickly regained his footing. He removed his teeth from the woman’s neck, a bruise already forming on the surface and gracelessly dropped her onto his bed.

The girl yelped, bouncing on the surface—watching as her date took his hat from his head and tossed it across the room while one knee came onto the bed, resting beside Cassandra while he worked on the buttons of his uniform.

“Agent Barnes,” FRIDAY’s voice came through the unseen speakers of the bedroom. Though it was unlikely Tony had cameras in any of the rooms of his coworkers, speakers for barking orders were non-negotiable. “Mr. Stark would like to kindly ask that you, quote, Keep your artificial paws--…”

FRIDAY didn’t get a chance to finish her announcement. Bucky’s gloved right hand darted downward to grip the gun he had holstered under his coat and lifted it to fire in the direction of the speaker without looking. It was evident he hit his mark when FRIDAY stopped speaking. He tossed the gun over his shoulder, jacket draped open to reveal a white tank top.

Cassandra propped herself up on her elbows to look up at him, her bottom lip between her teeth. “Starks’ not gonna be happy about that.” She scolded halfheartedly.

Bucky smirked, shrugging out of the coat, “Don’t care,” The fabric slid off his arms and fell into a crumpled heap on the floor. “I’m tired of interruptions.” He was completely unapologetic.

He brought his other knee onto the bed, caging her between them before crossing his forearms down over his stomach and gripping the base of the snug shirt to peel it up and off his body.'

Up until that moment, everything had been going fast but now time had slowed down to a halt- at least in Cassandra’s mind. She lifted her trembling hands parallel to Bucky’s chest, pulling back before touching it. “Is it okay?” She asked tentatively. Though the question seemed silly, Bucky’s firm expression shifted into one of endearment, his previously ravenous attitude turning to one of compassion for the nervous girl under him.

“Of course, Doll. Anything you want.”

Cassandra smiled, looking up at his face for only a moment before looking back at her hands. She felt if she looked into his eyes for too long she might get lost—or worse, loose her nerve.

Bucky sat back on his heels, steely eyes on her face as her hands lifted to rest on his shoulders. She wasn’t a virgin, but she wasn’t exactly a pro at this either—and all two of her past sexual partners couldn’t even begin to compare to Bucky.

The soft hands slowly slid down from his shoulders to his chest as the soldier sat still, allowing her to explore. He had a lot of experience staying frozen in place.

Following the curve of the musculature of his chest, her fingernails ghosted over the sun kissed surface. She couldn’t hear the purr he made, if he made one, but she could feel the vibration in his chest under her finger tips.

“Are you sure you wanna do this?” Cassandra whispered, her nails ghosting from the contours of his chest to the dips and arches of his stomach.

“Silly question.” He murmured, his voice rougher than usual while he watched her hands stop at his belt, curiously tugging at the buckle as if she wasn’t sure how to remove it. “But,” He reached down, taking her wrists gently in his hand, a glove still adorning the right. “Do you want to?” he whispered, rubbing soothing circles on her wrists. “We don’t have to.” He murmured, his hips grinding down to buck against her core, drawing a little squeak from her lips. Bucky smirked. “But don’t doubt that I want you.”

The shy woman nodded slowly, biting down on her lip. All she had to do was say no. No, and it would all stop. Bucky wouldn’t guilt her nor be angry. He was giving her power over him. He knew her real worry. He knew his doll. Yes, he wanted her. Yes, he was ready to go, yes, he wanted to shower her with love and affection; he wanted to show her how beautiful he thought she was—but he would stop it all for her.

She felt her heart pounding in her chest—heard it in her ears so loudly that she didn’t hear her own answer. “Yes.”

The soldier smiled, and his lips were back on her in an instant, trailing from the corner of her mouth, down her neck, to the hollow of her throat before laying a kiss above each breast.

Her breath hitched, and she reached down to tug at the belt, pulling it from its loop.

Bucky’s hands were back on her wrist, stopping hers from moving as he sat up. Her palms rested against the belt, her fingers sprawled over his lower stomach and the heels of her palms brushing against the hardness outlined in his pants.

The man clicked his tongue and shook his head. “Now easy there, Doll. This ain’t exactly even is it?”

Cassandra’s brows crinkled in confusion, so Bucky looked down at himself by way of explanation, drawing her attention to his nude torso. “Dress has gotta come off, babe.”

The soldierette sucked a breath through her teeth to signify her displeasure. “Does it though?” She asked, only half serious. “I could leave it on and we could still do this.”

Bucky was shaking his head before she finished the sentence. “No.”

“Can we turn off the lights first?” Cassandra tried again.

“No.” Bucky was smiling but his tone was firm. He knew there would be a chance that the girl would stop the presses, call off the evening due to his unwavering attitude—But he wasn’t going to be able to show her how stunning he thought she was if he yielded to her insecurities.

He dismounted her and sat on the bed, pulling her hands to urge her to sit up. She sat on the edge of the bed, heels on the floor and back to Bucky as he slid behind her, getting up on his knees. His gathered her long hair in his hands and slowly moved it out of his way so it all settled on one shoulder. His hands rested on either shoulder for a moment before he trailed his fingers over her upper back down to the hem of her dress where fabric met flesh. She was frozen under his touch.

Bucky’s fingers pinched the zipper, but he didn’t move to pull it down. “You tell me to stop and I’ll stop.” He promised. “Doesn’t matter how far we get.”

Cassandra smiled. There was something to be said about a man who would make it clear that she had control of the situation. Maybe it was his old-fashioned, gentlemanly upbringing—not the sort of treatment one would get from some frat boy in college.

“It’s okay.” She whispered, taking a shaky breath as she heard the buzz of her zipper being pulled down. He opened the back of her dress with her approval and kissed each inch of revealed skin.

The zipper rested at the small of her back, exposing previously warm flesh to the cool air. The next sensation she felt was Bucky’s hands shifting under the sleeves of the dress and sliding them down her arms.

The cloth pooled around her waist and Bucky patted her hip, urging her forward. “Stand up for me, doll.” He demanded in a kind tone, and Cassandra did as he requested right away because if she didn’t, he might not move at all.

The dress slid down her hips and hit the floor in a heap, circling her feet. She wrapped her arms around herself, biting her lip, as was her habit, and tilted her head down, shutting her eyes so she didn’t have to look at herself. This wasn’t like when she wore her uniform, tight and sleek, holding everything in and making her feel confident- even with her bra and panties on she felt exposed.

“I can’t turn around.” She whispered hoarsely—she could almost feel her legs trembling.

“Don’t need to.” He murmured in reply. Bucky sat on the edge of the bed, spreading his knees so the were on either side of Cassandra’s standing form. His hands rested on her shoulder blades and ran down to her hips, the contrast of cold metal and warm skin each forming goosebumps under their respective touches. “This view is just fine.”

The statement was a purr, emphasized by his hands giving her thick hips a little squeeze before they trailed down over the curve of her ass covered in aqua colored lace. “I remember these.” He murmured smiling as he squeezed a cheek, making the girl yelp.

Bucky slid his hands back up from her ass, running his nails and metal fingertips over her skin to her shoulders before dragging them a bit more firmly back down. His fingers followed the slopping curves of her body, over her hourglass waist, to her thick hips and back up again.

Cassandra could tell he was giving her time to warm up to turning around. Maybe she should just do it fast, like a bandage. He’d seen her back and hadn’t run for the hills. Why did her head make her feel like every ounce of her bare skin was unattractive?

As if sensing her inner conflict, Bucky assisted her, bringing his flesh hand up and smacking it down on the bare portion of her ass, smirking when she yelped. She would have stumbled over in surprise, had it not been for the metal hand squeezing her hip. “Turn around, beautiful.” He whispered, giving another little slap on the opposite cheek with his human hand to coax her onward. It was clear she was going to need a little push here and there.

Cassandra was reluctant, a heavy blush on her cheeks but with Bucky delivering a little nudge to her hip, she finally turned, facing him with her eyes squeezed shut.

She was waiting for it, the disappointment, the disgust, she wanted to crawl into a hole. But instead she felt two hands caress her face and she opened her eyes, looking down at Bucky who still sat at the beds edge with a smile full of adoration. “Beautiful.”

Cassandra felt embarrassed. But this time it was because she felt her eyes welling up. Half of her would say it was from Bucky’s kind statement of one single word—the other would say it was the relief that Bucky would still look at her and smile.

He leaned down, pressing his lips to one hip, over the softness of her stomach, keeping his eyes up at her as if to affirm that there was nothing about her he found unpleasant. His stubble scratched lightly against her stomach, his hands returning to her hips.

With the bandage ripped off, and her heart calming down, Cassandra smiled and brushed a lock of hair from Bucky’s face so she could see his eyes. Bucky gave her a little tug. “Have a seat, baby doll.” He coaxed her to straddle his lap and he felt her hesitation, so he gave her a look that looked insulted. “Do you think I’m weak doll?”

Cassandra looked at him in surprise, arching a brow. “Huh?”

“Think I can’t handle a thick goddess like yourself?” That made Cassandra blush and giggle, the little remaining bits of anxiety chipping away.

“Because I got news for you—I was handling babes like you before I could do this.” He latched onto her hips more tightly, surely giving her bruises for later, and lifted her effortlessly, forcing her to straddle his lap with her knees on either side of his thighs. His hands shifted to cup each cheek of her ass, a smirk on his face. “Now I can just handle you longer.”

Cassandra laughed, feeling better about herself as well as the vulnerable state she was in. “Goddess huh?” She asked, smiling at him while he nodded.

“Now why don’t you be a good girl…” He paused, reaching up to pull one of her bra straps before letting it snap back in place. “And take this off.”

“Isn’t it your turn?” She teased, a blush dusting her cheeks again.

“I have already removed plenty. You are still technically wearing more.” He tugged at the back of it, unlatching the back of the bra with little struggle. The bras in the 40’s must have been trickier. The woman assisted in taking the bra off, biting her lip through a smile when Bucky purred and lobbed the garment to the side by it’s strap.

“Much better, gorgeous.” He smirked, his human hand moving from her hip to her ample breasts, giving a playful squeeze before pressing a fingertip to one pink nipple.

The girl sucked in a little breath with a soft sound of contentment. She looked down at his metal hand, still at her hip. She smiled and took his wrist, trying to pull his metal hand up. “You’ve got two hands, Barnes.” She murmured, arching a brow. The soldierette always forgot as she dealt with her own insecurities, Bucky harbored his own. “You’ll need this one to help break me.” She murmured, her lashes fluttering as Bucky growled, flipping them over and pinning her to her back. He pinned her arms above her head, leaning down to press his lips against her ear.

“Positive you want it that way, doll?” He asked, his voice husky. Cassandra couldn’t tell if he was being playful, or if he really was confirming that she liked it… Rough.

She mimicked the face he had given her only a few minutes before. “James Buchanan Barnes, Do you think I’m weak? That I can’t handle a god like yourself?” She lifted her brows. “Because I’ve got news for you—I was handling babes like you before I could do this.” She gripped his waist and used his weight against him, pushing him up and hooking her leg around him to roll them back over. Her hands slipped out of his grip and pressed to his chest, pinning him down. “Now I can just handle you longer.” She echoed his words, a grin on her face to which Bucky barked a laugh and used his own strength to grip the backs of her thighs and sit up, pulling her legs behind him to knock her off balance and land with her head on the pillows.

“Point taken.” He said simply, smirking as he sat back on his heels and gripped his belt, pulling it free from the loops on his pants. He opened his pants, but didn’t pull them down, shifting to lay beside her. He hooked one of his legs around her stocking clad ones and spread it, his hand avoiding the garter belt to slip into her panties. She stopped him, gripping his forearm as she shook her head.

Before Bucky could reply with concern and assure her he didn’t have to touch her there if she wasn’t ready, she pointed with her unoccupied hand. “Other one.” She demanded, smiling when Bucky’s face lit up in understanding. “I think you’ve got a kink, babe.” He murmured.

Cassandra didn’t respond, opting instead to prop herself up on her elbows to watch his metal fingers disappear into her panties. Her breath hitched, thighs quivering slightly as the cool metallic appendages caressed her slit, gliding from the center up to her clit and pressing down. She let out a little cry of pleasure and blushed, covering her lips with a forearm as his finger circled the sensitive bud.

Bucky’s free hand reached up to bat her arm away from her mouth. “I wanna hear you.” His words were stern, and the little display of dominance caused wetness to pool into her panties, making her blush deepen and the soldier’s grin widen.

His finger skittered down to her opening, his middle finger slipping into the snug passage. Cassandra heard the arm whirling, the mechanics sending a slight vibration to his finger tip that made her gasp. She shifted to lay back on the bed, pressing the side of her face into the soft pillows that smelled like her soldier as another finger slipped in.

“I’d ask if you were okay,” Bucky curled his two fingers, thrusting them upward to grind against her inner walls. “But it sure feels like you are.”

Sucking in a sharp breath through her teeth, Cassandra’s back arched and Bucky’s thrusts picked up, hammering against her gspot relentlessly. She moved to cover her face shyly, but Bucky let out a growl of warning that kept her from doing so. Instead she spread her legs and gripped the sheets Bucky’s free palm pressing against her lower stomach to add to the pressure of his fingers.

“S-… Stop!” Bucky looked up at her and smiled knowingly but didn’t stop his fingers.

“Why?” He asked, curling his fingers towards his palm in a rolling motion against the surface of her walls.

“I-I’ll cum…” She whimpered, her blush matching her red lipstick. Bucky just smiled and thrusted his fingers up faster, listening to the lewd sounds coming from her panties. “I know.” He murmured.
Sure, he said he would stop—but only if she was uncomfortable, not because she was going to cum. An orgasm wasn’t a good reason to stop.

It was a splendid reason to keep going.

Cassandra cried out louder than she intended, writhing against the bed and causing Bucky to press down harder to keep her in place. Her eyes squeezed shut, back arching from the bed as her sex snapped down around the fingers, trembling and spasming as the hot knot that had been forming in her stomach snapped. She could feel her juices fill her panties and seep around her shaking thighs.

Through her bliss, she was overcome with the desire to apologize. One for making a mess, two for cumming. For some reason she felt bad about cumming without him. She propped herself back up on her shaking arms to regard Bucky who slipped his hand from her panties and inspected his glistening metallic fingers. He looked to his bed mate from the corner of his eye and opened those flush pink lips, running his tongue over the shining digits.

He hummed, a little noise of satisfaction and slipped the fingers into his mouth, suckling them clean before popping them from his mouth. The Sargent licked his lips and smirked. “I’ll have to get a proper taste another day.” He murmured, crawling up between her shaking legs, which he caressed with steady strokes. “For now, I’ve been patient enough.” He murmured, gripping the garter belt and yanking it down after unhooking it from the stockings, taking her panties with it.

“Hm?” Cassandra asked in a daze, unable to form a proper sentence even being exposed as she was. Bucky laughed and slipped his pants off his body kicking them off the bed as he lifted her legs to encourage her knees to bend, feet, still clad in heels, resting flat on the bed.

“You didn’t think you’d go to bed with just one orgasm, did you?” He asked with his confident edge, rolling his hips to grind his shaft over her messed slit. Her legs twitched when the tip brushed her clit, but Bucky held her knees, keeping them in place.

The female super solider tried to prop herself up again, her gaze widening when they fell on the male’s shaft. Sure, she could feel it—her sense of touch hardly did it justice when she was still tingling between her legs. She blushed, and Bucky smiled, confident—but concern was in his eyes. “You tell me if I hurt you, yeah?” He said firmly, a human finger crooking under her chin to shift her gaze to those haunting blues.

Still tongue tied, she managed a nod and Bucky took that as the okay to spread his doll open and position his cock at her entrance. Nudging it softly, he looked at the woman’s face for any sign of reluctance. When he found none—he bucked forward, plugging the head into her still trembling hole.

A sweet little moan left her painted lips, her hands coming up and signaling Bucky to move closer to her. He smiled, resting his hands on either side of the woman’s head and braced himself there, her hands gripping at his shoulders—one human, one not.

The motion of his upper body caused his cock to slip deeper inside her, making her shudder and give a long drawn out moan. Bucky locked eyes with her, wordlessly asking for permission. She nodded, “Move.”

That was all Bucky needed. He rolled his hips forward, burying his shaft deep inside her once in an experimentally slow thrust before he picked up the pace. His hips slammed forward against her, shaking the bed which creaked in protest to the violent action.

Cassandra cried out, her back arching off the bed for a moment as her nails dug into the skin of one shoulder, and scratched at the metal of the other. “Harder…” She whimpered out, gasping when Bucky obeyed the request immediately.

His name turned into a song on her lips, dropping it with each thrust like a prayer. She felt full, complete, desired—and above all amazing.

Her previous orgasm made her sensitive, her body keeping her in the in-between of falling over the edge to another orgasm, and keeping her on the near painful peak of over sensitivity unable to stumble into her pleasure.

The hand that rested on Bucky’s metal shoulder slid down to his wrist as he groaned out with each thrust. Her fingers coiled around his palm and she pulled, shifting his weight all on his human hand as she guided his palm to her neck. Cassandra blushed, placing her hand over his and pressing on his fingers, urging his hand to squeeze.

Bucky looked at her, unsure of her request—but mostly doubting his ability to keep from harming her. She smiled and lifted her head a bit to press into the hand, trying to encourage him. She needed the extra push, she needed to fall over the edge with him.

It was the trust Cassandra had in him that finally urged him to squeeze. His thumb, middle, and ring finger applied the most pressure, cutting off the blood flow as her plus beat against them, his palm pushing down enough to just slightly cut off her air supply.

The action made her mind foggy, her thoughts drifting away as her pleasure heightened, giving into the physical over the mental. Bucky thrusted faster, sending the headboard banging against the wall.

Cassandra’s eyes snapped open as Bucky rolled his hips upward, sending his cock right against her gspot and sending her plummeting over the edge again. Her nails raked down Bucky’s chest and he quickly let go of her neck, sending a rush through her mind and air to her lungs. Her body shook, a strangled cry leaving her lips. As her walls snapped down around him, Bucky let out a growl that could have made Cassandra cum again on instinct had she not already. She felt his cum flood her, her legs shaking violently around him as they panted.

Cassandra’s hair cascaded over the deep red pillows while Bucky’s clung to his face here and there, damp with sweat. Cassandra smiled through her panting breaths, reaching up to cup the man’s jaw and pull him down to her, laying a kiss on those lips as if she wouldn’t get another chance.

Bucky returned the kiss, giving a few more slow thrusts to milk his orgasm before stilling himself. "Beautiful." He whispered again when they broke away from each other. Bucky reluctantly pulled out of her, moving to leave the bed.

For a moment Cassandra panicked, even as she saw Bucky enter the bathroom. Was that it? Should she go? She swallowed, a heavy weight in her chest and her heart in her throat as she sat up, using her arms as support. Her limbs felt like jelly. It was going to be hard to get dressed and get out in a hurry.

Bucky came back in at that moment and rushed to his doll’s side. “Easy there, princess.” He murmured, a hand on her knee spreading her leg as he brought a warm wash cloth to clean up the mess they’d made there. Bucky tossed the dirtied cloth into a hamper at the corner of the room and sat on the bed beside her, pulling the sheets back.

“You didn’t think you were going somewhere did ya?” He asked with a grin, getting in bed and pulling up the sheets around him and his doll.

Cassandra smiled and shook her head. “Just… Didn’t know if you wanted to share your bed.”

Bucky laughed, “You’re always welcome in my bed.” He laid down, resting his robotic arm behind his head and brought the human one down to wrap around Cassandra who shifted to rest her head on his chest. “Even with clothes on.” He murmured, looking down at her and pressing his lips to her hair, taking a deep breath. “Though I like them off.” He mumbled, laying a kiss there.

He moved the hand behind his head to click off the light at his bedside, his other hand running through Cassandra’s long hair as the room became dark. Between the fingers in her hair and the gentle thumping of Bucky’s heart against her ear, she was asleep before she heard Bucky whisper a ‘goodnight’.

Chapter Text

The light creeping through the blinds at the window were enough to stir her. The yellow glow creating a strip across her eyes that forced them open with a little groan of protest.

Her hazel eyes darted around the room, squinting through the offending light. Nothing looked familiar. This wasn’t her room. Clean, blank, empty save for a few clothes littering the floor. Those were her clothes. They were someone else’s too.

Cassandra’s eyes snapped open fully as the events of the previous night came flooding back. She sat up, looking around the room. Right, she was in Bucky’s room. They… She shifted, trying to move out of the bed as slowly as she could, soreness overtook her, making her groan. Before her feet hit the floor, an arm was around her middle, tugging her back down to the bed. “You have this nasty habit of trying to leave this bed.” Came a rough voice, gravelly and tired from the lack of use.

Bucky’s left arm squeezed her around her middle as he used his other arm to prop himself up and look down at the woman. He arched a brow with a scolding expression. But the expression quickly softened, his tight lips morphing into a smile that he pressed to her forehead.

“I thought that-…” Cassandra didn’t get to finish her sentence because Bucky pressed a metal finger to her lips.

“You’re not a one-night stand.” He said firmly. His fingers brushed her hair back. “I didn’t take you to bed because I needed somewhere to stick it. I did it because I’ve wanted you since I saw you through the store window.” He smiled, “And now that I’ve had you I still want you.”

His tone didn’t leave any room for interjection or protest as he pulled her into a spooning position, keeping her firmly pressed to him with his metal arm around her center.

She shivered.

Bucky lifted his arm slightly. “Ah, sorry. I know it’s cold.” He mumbled, shame in his tone as he went to move it.

Cassandra placed her palm on the back of his hand and weaved her fingers between the metallic digits. “No. It’s nice.” She smiled. She could tell Bucky smiled too as he pressed his face into her tussled hair at the crown of her head.

Joyful, and only partially aware that she was completely nude being cuddled by a blissed out super soldier—something had to ruin the moment.

As usual it was her stomach. Her stomach ruined most things. Her confidence, her wardrobe, this time it was post coideal bliss. It growled under Bucky’s hand, turning her bright red and pulling a chuckle from the man behind her. She felt the laughter rock through his firm chest, which only mortified her more.

“Hungry, doll?” He murmured after lifting his head.

Cassandra shook her head. “N-No. Not really. I’ll get something when I get up.” She mumbled, pressing her face into her pillow. She didn’t even feel hungry.

Bucky smirked and propped himself up again, swinging his legs over the bed. “I’ll get you something,” He stood from the bed and flinched, hit with a realization. “Shit. And some water… Fucked you dry and didn’t even hydrate you after. Stupid.” He mumbled, reprimanding himself.

“No, it’s not a big deal really-- I’m not even--…” Cassandra sat up and flinched as well but for a different reason. Sore. She was so sore. She looked down at herself reluctantly, noticing her hips and legs littered with bruises. The soldierette was going to need more serum to heel those up.

She wrapped the sheets around her torso, hiding her bruised body. Cassandra opened her lips to protest again, but was silenced by 260lbs (if you include the metal arm), of nude muscle. She tilted her head in a daze, her eyes gliding down the strong back and stopping at his ass for a moment before marveling at his strong thighs… Then right back to his ass again. She stared dumbly as the man stood naked and proud, rummaging through one of his dresser drawers.

Cassandra didn’t think she’d ever be so confident to stand so blatantly in front of Bucky. Hell, she could barely do it with clothes on. But the soldier had nothing to hide.

The drooling woman was broken from her trance when a pair of black sweats came up to hide his assets. That why they called him the asset? That’s why Cassandra would call him the asset.

Bucky turned around, looking rather smugly as he caught the remains of his doll’s expression. He walked up to her with shrugging shoulders. “You allowed me to fuck you, I think I can feed you, babe.” He smiled and sat down on the edge of the bed beside Cassandra’s legs before leaning forward and kissing her head. “Cold?” He asked simply, eyeing the sheets covering her body.

Cassandra knew better than to tell Bucky the real reason she covered herself. He practically spanked her over her lack of self-love. So, she nodded instead.

The man got up and moved to his closet, pulling out a large hoodie, too big for even him and handed it to her. She smiled and took the hoody, but Bucky kept her from putting it on, pressing three fingers under her chin and tilting her head up. “I bruised you.” He said gruffly.

There was regret in his tone and hurt in his steely blue eyes, something Cassandra had been afraid of. “I’m mostly human, Bucky… They’ll go away after a serum treatment.” She smiled reassuringly, but Bucky didn’t look convinced.

“I was too rough with you.”

Cassandra set her jaw, his statement hanging in the air. Bucky directed his gaze to the ground, thinking deeply.

Of course, she had to put a stop to that.

She cupped his face between her palms softly and lifted his gaze back to hers. “Bucky,” She began, trying to think of the right words. “Last night was wonderful and I enjoyed every moment of it—so please don’t soil it by thinking you hurt me. You didn’t. You did exactly as I asked.” She smiled impishly, looking into his eyes. “If I could change one thing about last night… It would be that you were rougher.”

Bucky’s eyebrows raised, but his tight-lipped expression of regret turned into a smile, a soundless laugh leaving his nose in a huff. “Next time.”

The girl grinned, “That’s a binding promise ya know.” He nodded, getting up and arching his back, letting a few disks in his spine let out a satisfying crack.

“Be back in a few. Don’t get up.” He murmured. Cassandra of course set a jaw as he left the room, mainly because he did so without a shirt and she didn’t like that the others were allowed to see that.

She got up on her knees, letting the sheets fall as she shook off the green-eyed monster, throwing the sweatshirt on over herself. When she sat, it hit her knees, not doubt it would be long when she stood too.

Despite what Bucky said, she did get up, her legs a little wobbly as sensation hit them, sending a bit of soreness up her spine which she quickly tried to stretch out by lifting her arms above her head. Hers didn’t crack nearly as well as Bucky’s, but it was enough to release some of the tension and get her to the bathroom.

Flicking on the hot water, she stood in front of the sink, looking in the mirror. She hated going to bed with make up on, but last night didn’t give her much of a choice. She’d forgotten all about it. All things considered it didn’t look all that bad. Natasha must have used the heavy-duty stuff. Maybe she knew how the night would go.

Scratch that—Cassandra was sure she did.

Natasha had more confidence in Cassandra than she had in herself.

That or Wanda got into Bucky’s head and knew what was on his mind.

Cassandra blushed at the thought. Part of her wished she could get into people’s heads like that—then again Bucky seemed the type to say what he was thinking. At least to Cassandra. Being inside his head would be the only reason she’d want Wanda’s powers anyway.

Picking up a clean washcloth, she held it under the steaming water and wrung it out a bit before wiping her face, washing away any remaining lipstick, eyeliner, or mascara. She instantly felt cleaner as well as more awake and returned to sit on the bed, shaking her leg as a nervous habit.

Hopefully Bucky wasn’t making her too much food. She may look like it, but she really didn’t eat that much in the morning.

She cringed.

There was that subtle self-deprecation again.

Huffing a sigh, she stood up and moved to the door. She should go check on Bucky. Make sure he wasn’t making her a feast.

Cassandra opened the door, watching it slide open with a whoosh of its mechanics, before starting down the hall to the common area. The sweatshirt brushed just a little past mid-thigh, but she had nice legs, so it was fine. At least that’s what she told herself.

At least she was trying to be less self-loathing.

As she got closer to the kitchen area she was able to pick up the subtle sound of arguing. Well, maybe not arguing, just bickering. It wasn’t all that loud.

Before Cassandra turned the corner, she stood beside the opening, listening to the voices of Bucky and Tony.

“You know you’re not really her dad, right?” Bucky’s voice came out in a growl and Cassandra could just make out the sound of water filling a glass with ice. The ice crackled as the water hit it.

“I’m the closest thing she’s got.” Tony murmured. “Why do the good girls always go for the bad boys?” It was a rhetorical question, and Cassandra could tell it was directed words someone else in the room.

“Bucky isn’t a bad boy, Tony.” That was the Captain. Ah. The other person. It was a good thing he was there. If things did come to blows, as the underlining tone of the arguing men suggested, at least Steve would be there to break it up.

“Don’t act like you know what’s best for her or some bull shit. She’s not a child.” Bucky again.

“She was on ice for three years.” Steve murmured. “That makes her what- 25? Not a child.” He added, defending his friend.

“You have a tendency to fuck things up, Barnes. Maybe I don’t want Cassandra to be one of them.” Tony’s tone was more aggressive now, and even from her hidden position, Cassandra could feel the heat of Bucky’s rage. That hurt. It was a low blow.

Cassandra was sure their relationship had healed a bit, but maybe she was wrong? Maybe Tony was projecting.

Maybe she was the one fucking it up.

“She’s not your daughter, Stark. She’s your science experiment.” It was Cassandra’s turn to wince even though those words were meant to hurt Tony, not her.

“Sorry, what?” Tony spat out with narrowed eyes, though again, Cassandra couldn’t see them. “Wanna take this in the training room?”

“Put on the suit.” Bucky replied.

“You are upsetting Cassandra.” A fourth voice. It was a female voice heavily laced with an accent, muffled by whatever her teeth were digging into.

There was a heavy silence that settled in the room, it nearly had its own texture as it laid in the air.

“Come on out, Cass.” Captain Sweetheart finally broke the silence with his signature Captain Voice™.

“Snitch.” Cassandra mumbled, walking into the kitchen with her eyes down. God the air felt awkward. It was made more awkward based on what she was wearing.

Or wasn’t.

Things were always awkward without pants.

Bucky’s Adam’s apple bobbed in his throat as he swallowed. “M’Sorry, Baby Doll.”

Wanda took another bite of her toast and tilted her head forward at Cassandra as if to tell her to go on with what she had on her mind. God did she hate being put on the spot.

Without pants.

Fuck pants anyway though.

“I appreciate everything you’ve done for me, Tony.” She paused, trying to gather what she wanted to say. “And I understand what my original intent was.” It was Tony’s turn to wince at that. He hadn’t meant to use her or make her feel like a science experiment against Bucky… But that was in fact what he had done. “But, I don’t want to be the reason that tension bubbles between you two again.”

When no one bothered to interject and kept their eyes on her, she continued. “I know your concern comes from a good place—but I care for Bucky and you have to remember that Bucky and ‘The Winter Soldier’ were not the same person. I trust Bucky and I think you should too.”

Cassandra nodded, agreeing with herself, and kept her eyes on the floor. She wasn’t going to argue or make a big speech.

There was a moment more of silence before Tony broke it. “Can I trust you to put on pants?”

“Soon as I get my breakfast.” Cassandra said with a grin. For now, tensions had dwindled. She couldn’t say they were completely gone but at least they were less. Tony would get over it. His concern was endearing if not a little frustrating. Walking over to where Bucky seemed to have been cutting up some fruit, Cassandra took her position there, cutting up a few strawberries.

She heard Steve let out a grunt and when she looked over her shoulder he was rubbing one of his large biceps with a sheepish grin. “Quit look’n at my girl’s ass, punk.”

Cassandra blushed and giggled. Bucky looked like he was kidding with Steve, but he was half serious. He walked up behind Cassandra and put his hand on her lower back possessively, which did cause the sweatshirt to hike up a bit.

“Anything else you want, Babe?” He murmured, pulling bread from the toaster that chose that moment to pop up.

Cassandra shook her head. “You gonna share with me?” Bucky nodded his response as she picked up the bowl and Bucky placed the buttered toast on a paper towel. She picked up the water with her free hand and turned, Bucky’s metal palm sliding down her round ass and giving it a playful squeeze in view of the others in the room before gripping the hem of the sweatshirt and tugging it down to cover her more fully.

They turned down the hall back in the direction of Bucky’s room. “Breakfast in bed, Sargent? You sure know how to treat a dame.” They passed Sam in the hall, and he did a quick double take.
“Talk about an abusive relationship.” He mumbled.

Bucky stopped dead in his tracks and turned his head to look over his shoulder, rage in his eyes. He was a split second from taking his hand off Cassandra and embedding it into Sam’s cocky skull when Sam put his hands up defensively. “Eeeeeeasy robo-cop!” He pointed to Bucky’s back. Cassandra leaned back on her heals to look at it.

“I was talking about your kitten there. You’re a glorified scratching post.” Sam grinned and turned on his heels to leave the scene. Cassandra leaned forward, looking at Bucky with a blush and a sheepish smile.

“Guess… uh… Your back hasn’t completely healed from last night…” There were long thin scratches raised and irritated following the curve of muscles down Bucky’s back. They’d probably been much worse the night before. “Sorry.”

Bucky barked a laugh and gave her back a little push to urge her to his room where he pushed open the door. They made their way to the bed and Bucky sat down as Cassandra crawled to the center of the bed and crossed her legs, the sweatshirt bunching up enough to clump in her lap and hide her.

The super soldier leaned back, resting his human arm behind his head (far more comfortable to lay on) and picked a strawberry slice from their fruit bowl, popping it in his lips.

Cassandra smiled and looked down at him as he chewed, taking a sip of her ice water before taking a grape from the bowl and pushing it past her lips.

The silence that joined them while they ate wasn’t awkward, it was companionable. When half the bowl was gone, Bucky spoke. “I could get used to mornings like this.” He mumbled around another strawberry, which he stuffed in his cheek to speak. “Haven’t slept that good in a while. No nightmares—nothing.” He smiled, Cassandra smiled back, holding another slice of strawberry to his lips which he wrapped his tongue around, grazing her fingers as he pulled it into his mouth.

“Mmn,” Cassandra hummed. “Maybe you’ll have to have me over more often.”

Bucky grinned that wolfish grin of his. “Funny, doll—I was think’n the same.” His metal hand slid up to caress her arm, then went back down, to coil his fingers with hers while she took a bite of toast. “M’Get’n spoiled. Gonna be hard sleeping without my best girl every night.”

Cassandra stopped chewing. “Best girl?” She asked, large hazel eyes blinking in surprise.

The corner of his mouth quirked up and he nodded.

Cassandra smiled back, red filling her cheeks. “Best girl.” She repeated, trying it out again, only making Bucky squeeze her hand.

“Mmn hm.” He hummed back rather lazily, his back arching.

Cassandra bit her lip, placing the empty fruit bowl on the night stand and curling up beside Bucky. She rested her head on his chest, listening to the gentle drumming of his heartbeat.

“Bucky,” Cassandra murmured, taking a breath. “Were you ever able to be ‘de-programed’.” She paused. Bucky opened his eyes and cocked a brow. “With your trigger words I mean.” She whispered, not looking up at him.

Her lover, and best guy, shrugged his shoulders. “The book that held them was destroyed. So long as there’s no other record out there, I’m fine—in theory. But it’s a work in progress that isn’t testable without the words… And I’m not keen on giving them out for testing.” His hand pushed up the sweatshirt, gliding his metallic fingers up the curve of her ass to rub softly at the small of her back. “Why do you ask?”

Cassandra looked up, a little sadness in her gaze though it was gone as soon as it came. “Just curious.” She mumbled, laying her head back on the strong chest.

She was content to stay like that, curled up next to the super soldier with his metal arm around her and his heart at her ear.

But like most peaceful moments, it was ruined by a knock at the door.

Bucky ignored it, pressing his finger to his lips to encourage Cassandra to do the same.

The persistent knocking continued.

“Bucky! Cassandra!” Both of them groaned as Steve’s voice came through the door.

“We’re not home.” Bucky called back.

“Well FRIDAY would have alerted you, but apparently you shot out your speaker.” Bucky rolled his eyes.

“Get dressed. Briefing in 5.” Steve called through the door, followed by the sound of retreating footsteps.

“He used his Captain Voice™.” Cassandra murmured, looking at the door.

Bucky groaned, “Yep that means we gotta do what he says.”

Cassandra also groaned.

This was the opposite of what she wanted to do today.

Chapter Text

The briefing was simple. Not worth getting up for. Not in Cassandra’s opinion anyway. Then again nothing was worth getting out of bed with Bucky for. She would have gladly died in that bed—she would have done so happily. Well that wasn’t true. There was still a lot she wanted to do with Bucky.

In that bed.

“Tony jr.”

Sam. Even though the nickname could have been used for anyone at the table, Cassandra looked up—and instantly regretted it. Acknowledging it was giving validation to the name.

“He’s not my dad.” She reminded Sam.

“Pay attention or your grounded.” Tony said with a straight face. Cassandra was starting to think Tony might actually believe he was her father.

“I am paying attention!” She protested childishly, giving more ammunition to the cocky philanthropist.

“Oh yeah? Then what did I say young lady?”

Cassandra’s brow twitched in annoyance. “You’re sending us to Siberia to freeze our heroic asses off.” Tony made a circular motion with his hand to get her to elaborate. She rubbed her temple.

“AND to investigate the remains of an abandoned HYDRA base near Magadan that’s recently experienced an influx in activity. Purely a surveillance mission, get in and get out.”

Tony made a face that was mostly lip, pursing them as if he tasted something sour and nodded his head. “Over simplifying it a bit, but yeah.” He returned to the file on the table, paper for once rather than a holographic screen, archaic for him. “It’s the perfect mission to get your warmed up on.”

Cassandra pursed her lips this time, arching a sculpted brow. “And here I thought kicking the asses of two hyper-advanced J.I Joes and a bird man was warm up enough.”

“Technically you kicked my side.” Sam mumbled defiantly.

“You cheated a lot.” Bucky added, almost defensively.

“A wins a win.” Cassandra smirked, lifting her brows at Bucky who gave her a challenging look.

The Captain cleared his throat. “Pack light. It’ll be a quick mission. The hotel is about an hour from the base.”

“It’s not a dive is it?” Cassandra asked seriously, to which she got a nod in agreement from Sam as if he was wondering the same thing.

The two male super soldiers rolled their eyes, having been used to staying in the dingiest of places- places that wouldn’t even get one star on Yelp. The places Bucky had stayed when recovering his memory would give any germophobic person heart failure.

“The idea is to stay inconspicuous.” Tony muttered by way of answering.

Sam and Cassandra groaned in unison.

“But wont the ‘bad guys’ expect that?” Cassandra argued, arching a brow and leaning forward expectedly as if she made a good point. “No hero on a mission would be in a NICE hotel.”

“Three stars.” Tony said simply.

“Five.” Cassandra responded.

“Three.” Tony again.

“Four.” Cassandra was not getting an STD from poorly washed bedsheets or a toilet seat.

“Three.” Tony stood his ground.

“Three and a half.” Cassandra argued.

“Half stars don’t exist. Anyone who says otherwise is a liar.”

“Four.” Back up again.

“Four but everyone is sharing a room, basic package.”

Cassandra sat back, setting her jaw and pursing her lips in thought as if this was a serious negotiation. “I share a room with Bucky.”

“Not a chance in hell.” Tony said dryly.

Cassandra narrowed her eyes, there Tony went again, trying to play daddy. Their negotiation was so intense that it was as if there was no one else in the room. Tony answered the ‘why’ that was hanging in the air before Cassandra had a chance to ask it. He set his hands flat on the table and leaned forward. “This isn’t play time anymore. This is a real assignment. You need to be one-hundred percent focused, and if Barnes is going to be a distraction, then for the sake and wellbeing of the team you won’t be placed on assignments with him.” Tony wasn’t speaking by way of a father figure. This was as a team leader.

He wasn’t wrong, Cassandra could tell that by the way Bucky didn’t interject. There was a drawn out awkward silence in which no one said anything for a long while. Tony broke it. “Three.”

Damn it.


Taking a privet plane wasn’t the best way to be inconspicuous, but they didn’t have much of a choice. All the gear they carried would never make it through airport security. Come to think of it neither would Bucky’s arm.

It wasn’t like the jet had a big decal that said “Avengers” across the side anyway—and in retrospect with all the cameras and people in a normal airport this probably would be more inconspicuous in the long run. The less people that knew the Avengers were traveling the better.

Regardless Cassandra wasn’t a fan of flying. Was she afraid? No.

Did she make a mental note of all emergency exits as well as parachutes in the event of a crash landing? Yes.

But was she afraid? No.

Bucky pulled Cassandra out of her thoughts with a hand on her knee while Tony was talking to Steve. It wasn’t like after the lecture that their relationship had suddenly become a secret. But Bucky was trying to remain professional and keep Cassandra from experiencing another talking to. Not only that—but any disorderly contact would insure they wouldn’t be placed on assignments together. She wasn’t a fan of flying—and she wasn’t a fan of that idea either. Cassandra had a sinking feeling that once they landed there would be no touching what so ever.

Cassandra chewed her lips. That was fine—it was. She couldn’t deny that Tony was right. This was a different environment. They weren’t at the tower, they were on a job and as such they had to portray a degree of professionalism. Besides—Tony said it was a two-day mission.

How pathetic would it be if Cassandra couldn’t handle two days without Bucky’s attention?

How pathetic would it be if Cassandra couldn’t handle two days without fantasizing of all the possibilities behind having Bucky alone in a hotel room?

How pathetic would it be if Cassandra couldn’t keep herself from thinking about all the nasty, perverted, dirty, sticky, delicious, kinky—…


“Wha?” Cassandra’s eyes shot up to Bucky with an expression that looked blank and dumb.

“You’re gonna break my hand.” Cassandra looked down, she had been gripping Bucky’s human hand rather tightly. When had she started holding it? She quickly let go. She didn’t know her own strength, especially after a serum treatment. “Oh sorry!”

“We’ll land soon.” Bucky murmured, confusing her tight grip for fear rather than sexual tension. It was probably better that way.

“Better ease up on the PDA,” Came a voice in the seat behind them. “Don’t want the Iron Kill-Joy to give you another verbal spanking.” Natasha peeked over her seat and grinned, overly proud of herself as Sam looked over with her, resting a forearm on the back of Bucky’s seat to peer over them.

“Speaking of spankings—When you and Bucky—”

Sam was cut off by a hand on his face, pushing him back. “Nope.” Cassandra said firmly.

“I just want know—,” Sam tried to continue behind Cassandra’s palm.

“Nooooope.” Cassandra insisted, pushing more firmly.

“With the metal arm—,”



Cassandra hated traveling.

That was a lie. She didn’t hate traveling.

But she hated the act of getting to the place you were traveling to.

So maybe she did hate traveling. She enjoyed arriving.

“You gonna be okay in a Hydra base?” Came Natasha’s voice from behind Cassandra, pulling her from her thoughts as she set her bag on one of the beds. The girls had gotten a room together. They could have shared a room with the boys just as easily since they’d only be using the room to sleep in—but The Captain was traditional. Some moral codes couldn’t be broken.

Ironic considering, she was pretty sure Tony and Steve were sleeping together.

Scratch that—she was more than pretty sure.

Wait that wasn’t fair. Tony was sharing a room with Steve and that wasn’t an issue but her and Bucky couldn’t be in a room alone together? What sort of bull shit—..?

“Yeah I’m gonna be fine.” Cassandra had cut her own thought off after remembering that Natasha had asked her a question. “Despite what Tony may think, I can be professional.”

Natasha smiled weakly. “Some wounds cut deep and take a long time to heal. S’Not about professionalism. Everyone gets a little PTSD… Especially after the kind of shit we’ve been through.” Natasha had been using ‘we’ to describe the whole team, but Cassandra knew very well what Natasha had been through with The Red Room. After hearing about it Cassandra felt like what she’d been through was miniscule. But it wasn’t right to compare their stories—and in a way they were very similar. Both were forced to become things they didn’t choose, flawless killing machines.

Even though Cassandra was far from flawless. She looked over Natasha—god she was beautiful. She silenced her thoughts before they could become hateful to herself.
“I’m gonna be good. I promise.” She assured Natasha. “Besides, it’s just recon.”

“Just recon.” Natasha echoed with a smile, as if the prospect was reassuring in itself. After all, Cassandra was on a mission with Bucky, but Natasha was away from Banner. She was pretty sure they had a thing, though it was unspoken. Not in the way that Cassandra and Bucky’s was unspoken.

Cassandra and Bucky’s was unspoken—but blatantly obvious.


Just recon. Just recon. Just recon. Just recon.

She’d chant that over and over again in her head like a prayer the closer they got to their location.

It wasn’t as thought she couldn’t handle it, she meant what she said to Natasha. She would be able to keep her cool and keep herself on track.

Cassandra saw this as an opportunity to prove herself to Tony. The rest of the team was also important to her, but Tony was the one who gave her the opportunity—he also had the ability to take that opportunity away.

Being in the Avengers was the only sort of purpose she had since she came out of her frozen state. Before Tony suggested it she felt as though she was going through the motions of her new life and trying to grasp some sense of normality again—without success. She was never going to be normal again. Joining the Avengers was a natural progression. It was something she’d held very dear.

The jeep they were in hit a deep groove, sending Cassandra bouncing against her seat. Bucky put his hand on her thigh to still her as the road got less than smooth, indicating they’d gone off-road. It was the only indication. With the exception of the Captain and Tony, everyone else sat in the back of the jeep, covered by canvas in order to maintain some sort of stealth. The constant rocking of the vehicle was going to make her sick in no time as the snowy forests of Siberia were merciless in that regard. She took a deep breath through her nose, and let it out through her mouth, the cold air turning her exhale into a display of fog.

Bucky rubbed her thigh, safe from Tony’s gaze. “You don’t have to go in.” He reminded her lightly, knowing full well what her response would be.

Cassandra gave him a look and Bucky smiled, squeezing her leg.

Smiling, she took another breath. It was important to her that Bucky recognized she wasn’t fragile—which she knew he knew she was physically not. But she wanted to be sure she displayed mental strength as well. Still, his concern sent warmth through her chest that aided against the frigid cold.

“Inappropriate work behavior.” Sam commented.

Bucky settled for flipping him off.

“Stop giving the bird the bird.” Natasha commented, visually pleased with the stupid pun. Tony called over his shoulder. “Don’t make me turn this caravan around.”

Nice to know this ‘serious mission’ didn’t dwindle Iron Dad’s sense of humor.

Cassandra closed her eyes and leaned back, if she didn’t she was going to vomit. Bucky kept a hand on her knee as if that would ease the motion sickness. “I’d rather be shot at.” She muttered, referring to the way the jeep continued to rock back and forth as if it was on the water rather than land. It probably wouldn’t have been so bad if they had taken one of their own vehicles, but again—that wasn’t stealthy. A high end jeep (more like an armored tank) smoothly cutting through the forest would be extremely obvious to anyone potentially scouting for the base.

Resting her head on Bucky’s shoulder sounded great, but falling asleep sounded foolish. The mission had officially started the minute they piled into the back of this thing—and although it was making her sick, she had to suck it up and deal with it via steady breathing.

It was only by the grace of god that the jeep stopped, having been thrown into park at a slightly tilted angle that would have sent Cassandra into the canvas behind her had it not been for Bucky’s aiding hand.

“We’re here.” He murmured, seeming reluctant to take his hand off her leg. So, Cassandra smiled and nodded her head. She wanted to make sure he was comfortable leaving her to do their jobs.

“Just recon.” She whispered softly, hopefully it would give him the same amount of comfort it was giving her.

The soldier nodded, taking his hand from her body as he stood. Immediately his hands went to each of his weapons, he carried more than Cassandra. Even with HYDRA no longer influencing him, he held the same number of weapons on his body. It was like second nature—muscle memory that couldn’t be erased no matter how much he’d like to forget. Blades, guns, he took more time with them to make sure they were cocked and loaded.

It was obvious that Bucky was comfortable with this weaponry while Cassandra was not. She had two pistols, instead of one as she normally would carry, strapped to each thigh, and a blade on her belt. Other than the additives, Cassandra’s suit was the same as it had been the many times she’d met Bucky. Only now she didn’t wear a face mask, she didn’t see the point. It had only been to conceal her identity from Bucky.

She checked her guns, insuring they were completely loaded and secure in their holsters while Natasha and Sam jumped out of the back of the car, pulling the canvas back to fill the jeep with an ice-cold gust. Bucky followed close behind them, but Cassandra caught his wrist before he jumped out.

Bucky turned, a confused expression on his face until Cassandra moved closer to him, brushing her pink lips against his. A kiss he deepened just before she pulled away. “What was that for?” He mumbled softly, to which Cassandra smiled.

“Just in case.”

Bucky smiled back, taking her cheek in his hand. “It’s just recon, babe.” With that he used the back of his hand to brush her long hair from her face and stepped out from the back of the jeep, sending a cold breeze back over her nervous form.

“Just recon.”

Chapter Text

Apparently the first part of any successful mission involved crouching down in the dirt and snow to make sure all parties are on the same page. Because such a thing, apparently, couldn’t be done from the warmth of the jeep.

For argument sake the jeep wasn’t all that much warmer.

“Sam and Tony, you two will enter here, from the door on the roof,” The Captain continued his instructions, pointing to a crudely drawn box in the mud that must have been the former artist’s best effort at drawing the building in front of him. In his defense it was last minute. And probably unnecessary as they could just point at the building not 100 yards away, but who was Cassandra to criticize? She’d never been on a mission before after all.

“You two are the only ones with the ability to fly.” Apparently based on the look on Sam and Tony’s faces Steve felt the need to justify his assessment.

“Bucky and I will enter from the back and Cassandra and Natasha will enter from this side,” Steve pointed to the left of the dirt masterpiece. “It’s got the most cover.”

“Okay but we’re gonna be talking about chick stuff the whole time. Boys, make up, how super cute those shoes I saw in the Macy’s store window were…” Cassandra gave a look to Tony, mocking the fact that it was likely his idea Natasha and she go together rather than her and Bucky.

“So long as you do it quietly.” Steve murmured as he stood up and chucked the stick behind him.

Everyone rose in turn, brushing the dirt from their knees where needed. “Time for the team chant, right?” Cassandra said sarcastically. Apparently, car sickness made her mouthy.

Or maybe it was just the first mission jitters she’d never admit to having.

“Avengers assemble?” Natasha offered helpfully.

“Already assembled.” Sam said simply, striking a fist to a panel on his left shoulder to force his artificial wings to snap into place before he was airborne. Tony was behind him in a second, his face guard snapping into place as his boots made a soft humming sound before flames shot from them and he too took off.

The Captain broke into a jog around the trees to head to the back of the building as Cassandra felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned to see Bucky’s rugged face, smiling weakly. “If you need anything,” he gave a little squeeze to the girl’s shoulder. “You have a walkie for a reason.”

Cassandra smiled back and nodded. “I won’t need anything. Just an empty building, right? Recon? All that pep talk, ‘member?”

“And,” Natasha interrupted, wrapping an arm around Cassandra’s shoulder and maneuvering her to turn and look at Bucky. “She’s got me.” Natasha grinned confidently. “Don’t worry Sarg. I’ll protect your girl.” She added, giving a mock salute.

Bucky smirked, nodding as he broke into a jog after Mr. Freedom. “You better.” He called just before he faded into the trees.

“Hate to watch him go. Love to watch him leave.” Cassandra murmured before a firm slap to the back snapped her out of her gaze, staring longingly at where Bucky’s ass had faded from view, along with the rest of him.

“Wipe the drool off your chin and keep up with me, Newbie.” It could have been a dig at Cassandra’s expense, after all she wasn’t hiding her lust well on this trip—but Natasha’s tone was all playful and she ran ahead in the opposite direction Bucky and Steve had gone.

Natasha was much lighter on her feet than Cassandra, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t keep up. She arrived at the side of the building just a few paces behind Natasha who was already attempting to pick the lock on an iron clad door.

“They don’t get an A for security.” Natasha mumbled as Cassandra stood behind her, looking up along the walls of the building which lacked windows. “What do you mean?” She mumbled before she pointed up to a camera. “There’s that.” She murmured.

“Not on.” Natasha said simply. “Tony did a scan of the building. Didn’t pick up any electrical traces.”

“Does that mean the door isn’t rigged either?”

The Black Widow shrugged, twisting the little tool in her hand inside the lock. “Probably but—”

She didn’t get a chance to finish her sentence before the door was ripped from its hinges, leaving cracks in the cement of the building where it once sat. Natasha ducked, shielding herself from any potential rubble from the crumbling surface as Cassandra lifted it and tossed it back into the snow with a thud that was less than discrete.

When the dust particles caused by crumbling sediment made a home on the ground, Natasha lowered her arms from her head and gave Cassandra a look that resembled a mixture of disapproval and the timeless expression “what the fuck?”.

Cassandra looked down at her and blinked, tilting her head. “… What?” Natasha stood, shaking her head as she pulled out her gun and cocked it before stepping into the building.

“What?” Cassandra repeated a little louder. “You said it wasn’t armed.”

“I said probably.” Natasha said calmly, taking small calculated steps as Cassandra walked behind her. “You can’t go acting like the Hulk on a stealth mission.”

Cassandra pursed her lips. “Don’t take so long then.” She mumbled under her breath, pulling both of her own guns from their holsters.

It was silent as the grave. The cement walls hovered high above their heads, covered in dust and cobwebs. It looked like no one had been there for decades. “We sure Tony got the right information?” Cassandra mumbled. Besides their own, there were no footprints in the pile of debris they stepped on. It looked more like a warehouse than a HYDRA facility. “Sure looks like it’s deserted.”

“Maybe they heard us come in.” Natasha arched a brow and looked over her shoulder, giving Cassandra another disapproving look, causing Cassandra to shrink a little and mumble, “Sorry.” She did have a tendency to behave like a bull in a china shop. Maybe she should spend more of her time learning finesse. Bucky could teach her that on their own time. He could teach her a lot of things.

The ladies made their way down a hall away from the open space they’d entered. It was lined with empty storage units. Wires hung from the ceiling where lights used to be, still as stone from the lack of wind. Natasha looked to the ground where small lines and piled debris on either side of the patters lead from out of a storage unit, like something had been rolled through it some time ago. Natasha pressed her fingers to her ear, activating her communicator. “Our side is clear. Whatever was here got cleared out.”

Tony’s voice came through, “So is the second floor and the roof top.” It made sense. HYDRA was a beacon of technology, even if said technology was often less than perfect. If there was still HYDRA activity here Tony would have picked up some electrical signal. Cassandra shoved her guns back in their holsters. Natasha kept hers drawn for a source of light which illuminated from its’ scope.

“We’re clear too.” Steve’s voice. Cassandra was almost disappointed. She wasn’t mad about coming all the way to Siberia for nothing, because it was good practice. But more importantly because it wasn’t exactly nothing. With HYDRA it was better to be safe than sorry.

Natasha walked over a crack in the floor and took another look in the open storage units, all had lifted doors except one.

“Stay there.” Natasha pointed behind her to indicate where she wanted Cassandra. “Cover me.” She murmured. Cassandra Drew her guns again and stood still, pointing them in the direction of the metal door. Natasha slinked over to it, a hand on the place where a lock should have been before looking at Cassandra who nodded, confirming silently that she was ready in case anything jumped out at them like a horror movie. Natasha nodded and pulled at the door, her hand on the trigger of her own gun as the door snapped open over there heads.

Cassandra huffed, shoving her guns back in their holsters again. She stepped forward, “Guess we’re still clea—”

Her sentence was cut off as a crack in the floor made a sickening sound. Cassandra looked down the crack extending outward before the floor fell out from under her. She screamed as she fell through the floor, her arms flailing in an attempt to grip something, but there was nothing to grip as she drifted gracelessly through the air. She had to be falling for at least ten seconds—a long time to fall, before her back hit the concrete, her head bouncing against it—the air knocked out of her lungs.

A groan echoed through the dimly lit space as she opened her eyes, peering up through the hole she fell through. She could barely make out Natasha’s outline and the glow of her flashlight. “Cassandra!” She called again. Evidently, she’d done it more than once, but the ringing in Cassandra’s ears kept her from hearing her.

“M’Fine…” She called as best she could with her head pounding. Had she not been a super soldier such a fall could have killed her—or at the very least broke her back. She couldn’t bring herself to think about that. All she could think of was the fact that Natasha stepped on that same crack and hadn’t fallen through. Even in pain her number one concern was the embarrassment. Of course the bigger girl would fall through the floor. Of course. Thank god no one else was around to see it.

“What do you see?” Cassandra snapped out of her thoughts. Right, she was on a mission. “Not much.” She called up to her as she got to her feet unsteadily. She swayed a bit, trying to find her balance as she rubbed the back of her head. She pulled a small flash light from the pocket of her belt and clicked it on. Another empty room. They were under the impression this place had only two floors. There had been no indication of a basement. She lifted her hand to touch her communicator and inform the team, but her fingers came in contact with nothing but her ear. It must have fallen out when she hit the floor. “Lost my com.” She called up to Natasha.

“Stay there, I’ll find a way down.” She disappeared from the hole in the floor/ceiling, muttering something in her communicator. She couldn’t just jump down to Cassandra’s level. She was well trained, but she wasn’t super human. A jump like that would shatter her legs. If there was another floor there had to be stairs.

Cassandra let out another huff before gliding her flashlight over the surface of the dusty floor, concreate like the rest of the building, looking for her communicator. She took a step forward and heard a soft crunch, causing another sigh to exit her lips. She lifted her foot and tilted the light down to see a shattered communicator. Of course.

She rubbed her forehead, dragging her hand back and through her hair—half because of the headache, half from exasperation. Turning her head, she crinkled her brow. Her eyes rested upon a rectangular shape in the darkness, outlined in a dim light. “Nat!” She called, looking up. But Natasha was long gone. At least she found a way out. She lifted her flashlight and walked over to the shape, resting her beam on the handle and tugging it open.
Her pupils shrunk, trying to adjust to the bright light behind the door. When her temporary blindness subsided, she was met with a large room. A large computer monitor rested on one wall, file cabinets torn open with their contents scattered on the floor. On the other side of the room where empty capsules. She recognized them. It wasn’t long ago that she had been in one.

She ran her hand over the surface of one, her fingers raising and falling with the texture of the shattered glass, a streak of dust lifting from the surface. It clearly hadn’t been used in many years. The florescent lights above her flickered and she drew her hand away. At least they could confiscate these and see what was left in the computer or the files. She crouched down, lifting one of the papers from the floor. They were all in Russian. Bucky spoke Russian—she’d give it to him and see what he said. She pursed her lips, about to stand when she felt a shooting pain go through the back of her neck. She burned and shivered at the same time, a current shooting down her spine like a lightening rod and spreading from the disks in her back through the bones of her body before the pain danced with each of her nerve endings.

She fell forward to the ground, her teeth gritting as she panted, wisps of smoke raising from the back of her neck. Her hands wouldn’t respond to her, aching like they weighed fifty pounds each—they wouldn’t obey her command to move and rub the back of her throbbing neck. She panted harder, using her own weight as best she could to roll onto her side with a cry of pain, followed by a grunt as a booted foot contacted her shoulder and pushed her the rest of the way onto her back. Cassandra’s watering eyes met green ones.


Cassandra set her jaw, peering up at those green eyes she hated so much. “Vasiliev.” She murmured softly. She knew those eyes, she knew that face. She’d seen it the night she danced with Bucky, and she’d seen it a hundred times before that. She knew that face better than her own, every curve of lips, the way his eyes crinkled when something piqued his sadistic pleasure—she knew him.

“You remember me,” he said with a heavy accent, his ashy white hair falling in uneven tufts over one eye. “I’m so glad.”

“You made it difficult to forget.” She whispered, trying to move her body—it didn’t budge. She lifted her head a bit, the most she could do to look at herself, blue lines like cracks littered her skin as if tattooed just under the surface.

“Would you like to forget, Kukol’nyy?” Her hazel eyes slid back up to her assailant as her head fell back on the floor like something had pushed it back into place. Her chest rose and fell faster, unable to shake her head to the question that she knew was not a question. “I can make it go away.” He murmured, moving over to one of the file cabinets and reaching inside. Papers spilled over the sides of the cabinet as he lifted his hand, sending the contents fluttering like butterflies to the floor. He turned his body, holding up a little, faded, blue book—littered with lines as if someone had scratched the leather surface repeatedly.

“No.” She whispered weakly.

Vasiliev flipped through the book and smiled, his fingers stroking the page fondly as his eyes landed back on the girl on the floor.


She shook her head the best she could.


“Please…” She whispered hoarsely.


“Don’t.” She whimpered shamefully, feeling her eyes well up from a different sort of pain.




She slammed her head back into the hard floor, the only part of her she could manage to move as she gritted her teeth, as if knocking herself out would prevent the inevitable.



She screamed at him like a caged animal, trying to tare herself from the floor.

“Tri!” He rolled his ‘R’ teasingly, her pleas and frustration falling on deaf ears.

Her back arched from the floor, trying to lift herself as her body shook slightly. “Stop--!”


Her body went ridged and there was a chilling silence in the air as the man crouched down to touch the back of the girl’s neck, pealing a metal disk from it. The lines in the girls skin, her breath returning to a steady pace as she stood gracefully from the floor—as if she hadn’t been in immense pain just a moment before.

“Kukol’nyy?” Vasiliev whispered, reaching out to push her long brown hair from her empty eyes.

“Gotovy soblyudat.”

Chapter Text

Steve and Bucky were the first to arrive at Natasha’s location, Tony and Sam arriving just a moment later.

“Where is she?” Bucky asked quickly, coming to a stop in front of Natasha. “She’s on the lower level. I haven’t been able to find a way down there.” She murmured, out of breath from running around her half of the building. Bucky ran to where Natasha pointed, indicating the last place she’d seen her teammate. He slid to a stop when he came upon the hole in the ground, getting on his knees to yell down into it. “Cassandra?”

He was met with silence. He stood up and made a motion like he was about to jump down, but was halted by a hand on his shoulder, Steve’s hand. “She probably found a way back up.” He said by way of comforting his friend who seemed distressed. “She’s okay.” He reminded his friend.

“I’ll go down and see where she went.” Bucky insisted, his foot braced at the edge of the opening.

That’s when both soldiers heard the sound of metal hitting stone. Their ears perked before Bucky set off in the direction of the sound, leaping over the hole. Steve followed a beat after.

In one of the dirty storage units, a metal panel had been lifted from the floor, previously unnoticed by Natasha and Cassandra from all the dust. Cassandra stood in front of it, still as stone with her eyes lifted blankly in Bucky’s direction.

“Doll.” Bucky said in relief, moving to approach her, shoving his gun back in its’ holder. He’d drawn it on instinct when he heard the sound.

“You alr—” But Bucky didn’t get a chance to ask his question.

Cassandra’s hand shifted to her belt, drawing a knife before flicking her wrist and embedding it into Bucky’s right shoulder. He screamed in sudden pain, backing away from the woman as he gripped his arm, lifting his metal hand to coil his fingers around the handle and yank it free. Blood spilled from the wound, soaking his jacket through. He pressed his metallic palm to the stab wound.

“Bucky!” Steve yelled, rushing to his side. Cassandra lifted both of her guns and let off round after round in the direction of both men, forcing them back. Steve gripped his shield from his back, holding it protectively in front of Bucky and himself as they retreated.

“Cassandra!” Bucky yelled, as the boys moved backwards. Steve looked up at the ceiling, eyes glued to a large light panel that hadn’t worked in years. As Cassandra expelled her empty magazines letting them clatter against the ground, Steve threw his shield, dislodging the light from the ceiling and sending it crashing down on Cassandra.

Glass flew in every direction, scattering over the floor and pinning Cassandra under it.

“Go, go, go!” Steve chanted, pushing Bucky in the other direction back down the corridor. He pressed his fingers to his ear and spoke to the team. “We’re under fire!”

“By who?” There was surprise in Sam’s tone. “Cassandra!” Steve called back, hearing scattered glass and heavy metal shifting behind him before the cocking of a gun. The men turned a corner, a bullet planting itself in the opposing wall of the hall they turned down.

“Another fucking test, Stark?” Bucky yelled over the communicator to which Tony replied hastily. “Not from me!” He said defensively.

“Don’t think Tony would have Cassandra stab you in the arm, Buck.” Steve protested as they made their way to an open area of the warehouse, slamming the metal door shut behind them and pulling the heavy latch into place. Bucky leaned against the wall, holding his arm as the other members of the team rushed over.

“Why did she attack you?” Natasha asked, looking between Steve and Bucky. “I don’t know.” Bucky grunted out, taking off his blood-stained jacket to inspect the stabbing. His tight black T-shirt torn where the blade had sunk into his skin. Natasha moved forward, ripping the torn sleeve of his shirt and using it as a bandage to ease the bleeding. Bucky hissed through clenched teeth like any wounded animal but didn’t move while she tied the fabric into a hard knot.

There was a pounding on the door, causing it to bubble wherever it was struck on the other side. The team braced themselves, spreading out in the room, except Steve who stood in front of the door with his shield up. There was another bang on the other side of the door and it flew forward, clattering on the floor.

Cassandra stepped forward, walking over it with her guns drawn and shooting in front of her with emotionless eyes and a crinkled brow.

The bullets ricocheted off the Captain’s shield, bouncing in opposing directions with harsh pangs of metal. He threw the shield, striking one of Cassandra’s arms who grunted as one of her pistols flew from her palm and skittered across the floor in Natasha’s direction who picked it up and started shooting in Cassandra’s direction.

Cassandra jumped off the door and rolled out of the way of the fire. There were three shots, all that was left in her confiscated firearm. Jumping back to her feet, she was struck in the chest by two boots, sending her flying back into the stone wall. It cracked around her as Sam dropped to the ground after the strike, his wings folding back in. “Cass stop!”

The girl slid down the wall and gritted her teeth, pointing her gun in Sam’s direction. She wasn’t aiming for the panels of his gear, this wasn’t a game like before. Steve rushed over to her and kicked her forearm, throwing her aim and causing her to shoot at one of Sam’s wings, causing the mechanical wing to malfunction, grounding him for the moment.

Cassandra shifted to her knees and leaned to the side, bracing herself with her hands as she kicked upwards, sending the Captain across the room. Tony lifted his hands, each of his palms glowing in warning. Cassandra lifted her gun and pulled the trigger, greeted with an empty click and no ammo left in which to fill it. She scowled and threw the empty gun away, drawing another blade, larger than the one she’d struck Bucky with before getting to her feet.

“Stand down!” Bucky barked at Stark, who turned his head toward him but didn’t move from his position. Bucky scowled at the man in the red suit but stepped in front of him to face Cassandra who also didn’t move. Bucky raised his hands defensively, unarmed as he stepped closer to the girl. His steps were slow and calculated, much like one would approach a wild animal.

“Doll… It’s me…” He took another calculated step in her direction. Her eyes narrowed, and she lowered her blade slightly. His blue eyes locked with hazel eyes as they had so many times before. But these eyes were cold and analytical. They were angry and empty. They weren’t the eyes he knew. “It’s Bucky.” He murmured softly, searching her face.

She paused, looking to his feet which forced him to stop his approach. She looked back up at his face, her eyes narrowing a bit more as her head tilted. “Who the hell is Bucky?”

Cassandra charged forward, flipping the weapon in her hand so the blade was on the side closest to her pinky. She threw a hook at the man, the blade grazing over his lightly bearded cheek as he leaned back to avoid it.

There was a bright light and suddenly the woman wasn’t in front of him anymore—a blast from Tony’s hands sending her hurdling across the room and threw the opposing wall. A sickening crack of bones against stone echoed through the room as the stone gave way, forming a hole. Cassandra’s body rolled against the cold, snowy ground outside—the only thing stopping her being a tree. Her back struck it, bowing around it before bouncing forward and falling into the snow face down not moving.

“What the fuck, Tony!” Bucky growled, approaching him and gripping his forearm to pull it down to the floor, breaking him from his offensive pose in which he’d been ready to shoot her again.

“You’re welcome!” Tony growled back, turning to Bucky. “You’re welcome for saving your ass—or did you not just witness the same thing I did?” He yelled as his golden face shield snapped up to make eye contact with the super soldier.

“She’s not in her right mind!” Bucky yelled back, his cheek bleeding as he spoke. The red substance beaded together at the center of the cut, becoming too heavy to stay in place before it dripped in a glob down his cheek and over his jawline.

Outside, Cassandra shifted. She lifted herself with shaking arms, raising to her hands and knees. She coughed, spitting blood from her full lips. The soldier raised her head, blood staining her mouth and creating a streak down her chin. Her body swayed as she got to her feet, snow clinging to her seared uniform.

“Kukol’nyy!” The Avengers turned their heads, hearing an unknown male voice. A rope dropped down from the sky, the aggressive thumping of a helicopter’s propeller cutting through the air. Cassandra tied a loop into the rope and slipped her foot into it, gripping it with one hand as it ascended to the helicopter.

“No!” Bucky yelled, running to the girl and attempting to grab her with his metal hand. His robotic fingers grazed her foot, unable to grip it. He fell into the snow losing his footing and slipping onto the frosty ground. Cassandra didn’t look down, crawling into the helicopter as it took off.

Sam ran through the hole in the wall, his wings flicked back out from his pack, but the one that took the hit from Cassandra wouldn’t open completely. He cussed under his breath and called for Tony, but the millionaire was already in the air, giving chase to the helicopter. Tony caught up to the girl in no time. He shot towards the opening, only to be met with Cassandra leaning out of it with a shoulder-launched missile in her hands. She threw the butt of it over her shoulder and took aim at Tony without blinking, pulling the trigger. The small projectile shot from the barrel, impaling the man just below the target of his chest. The man was pushed back, the rockets of his feet flickering as if trying to restart as he plummeted to the ground in a spiral of smoke.

The helicopter changed its’ direction and vanished from view in a matter of moments.

Steve was the first one to reach Tony, laying in a crumpled heap and a crater caused by his fall. The snow around him had melted from the heat of his suit. “Tony!” Steve called, running over to him and getting on his knees beside him. He gripped the face plate of his suit, taring it off to look at the man’s face. Subtle sparks sprang from the hole in the suit. Steve touched Tony’s face, brushing his hair back. “Tony.” He whispered, panic in his voice as he pulled him into his lap.

Tony’s lips parted, sucking in a hard breath at the same time his eyes shot open. He coughed, and Steve sighed in relief. The playboy pulled himself up, sitting in the dirt as he looked up at the sky. There was a long silence before Tony finally spoke—his voice ragged. “Let’s get the team out of here.”


Bucky flinched as Banner shoved a needle near his stab wound, injecting the surface with numbing. Bucky could probably take stitches without the substance, he’d done it plenty of times—HYDRA wasn’t exactly gentle with him—but where comfort was offered, why choose pain?

“Maybe she was a double agent?” Steve offered to the conversation that was already taking place. He looked to Tony who was lounging in one of the chairs. His suit had taken much of the impact, but he was bruised both physically and emotionally from it. “Is there any chance HYDRA got to her after she was defrosted.

Tony shrugged. “Sure, it’s possible. Urging her to play us probably wouldn’t be so hard.” He said flatly, no emotion in his tone. Bucky’s fists clenched, tightening the muscles of his arm. Banner tapped the arm he’d been working on. “Keep this arm relaxed.” He instructed as he started his stitching. It was hard to get through the soldier’s skin otherwise.

“She wouldn’t do that.” Bucky muttered, his head down. Tony turned himself slightly to look at Bucky. “She did do that.”

“That wasn’t her.” Bucky said firmly, setting his jaw as a substitute for clenching his fists. He could feel himself grinding his teeth as Tony sat up a bit, sarcasm dripping in his tone. “Oh, it wasn’t? That’s a relief. It sure looked like her, but I guess we’re all just wrong about that.”

“She didn’t know me!” Bucky snapped, lifting his head and glaring daggers at Tony. His chest rose and fell with rage. No one dared to talk in those moments. It wasn’t until he looked down that he spoke. “She didn’t know me.” He repeated.

Natasha, who had been leaning against the wall watching Banner stitch Bucky, chose that moment to speak up. “She did hit her head.” The males turned their eyes to her, except Banner who kept his eyes on his work. “When she fell.” She elaborated. “Maybe it--.” She paused, trying to establish her hypothesis. “Retriggered something? Something from back when HYDRA had her?”

A silence fell over the group, as if digesting this idea. Banner finished stitching, placing a large bandage over the surface. His enhanced genetics would do most of the work, but Cassandra had gotten him deep, his super soldier DNA would need a little help with that one.

“The man in the chopper called her Kukol’nyy.” Bucky whispered, looking at Steve expectantly, who’s face held confusion. Bucky set his jaw again.

“It means ‘Puppet’.”